Members of the Mahoning Valley Coalition on Job Growth and Investment are urging city voters — for a third time — not to approve a citizen-initiative charter amendment to ban fracking in Youngstown.
The coalition includes union officials, business leaders, attorneys and politicians, and is coordinated by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
Coalition members said at a Thursday press conference that the charter amendment proposal on the May 6 primary ballot would hurt the city if it’s passed.
“This amendment would serve as a job killer,” said Mayor John A. McNally.
Although coalition members say the proposal isn’t constitutional because it conflicts with state laws that give control over fracking to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, approval of the amendment would send the wrong message to the oil and gas industry.
“It would chase away good-paying manufacturing jobs,” McNally said. “The proposed amendment is very broad.”
It would require the city to be “an enforcement arm” of the ODNR, and that’s something it cannot handle, he said.
“This is the third time we’re talking about this issue, and it’s time to stop,” said Jaladah Aslam, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8.
Supporters of the charter amendment listened at the press conference, and afterward, said the proposal protects the health and safety of the public.
“It’s for our citizens,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee, which collected signatures on petitions to get the amendment on the ballot for the third time.
City voters rejected the proposal in May and November last year. It lost by 13.7 percentage points last May and by 9.3 percentage points in November.
“For [coalition members] to say this is not politics is ridiculous,” Beiersdorfer said. “It is politics overwhelming science. To say that the gas and oil industry will be good for the city is very short-sighted.”
Also, Bill of Rights members have lobbied state officials to return the authority over fracking to local governments, she said.