Will anti-frackers prevail?

On the side

Lincoln Day Dinner: The Mahoning County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner is May 29 at the Georgetown Banquet Center in Boardman. The keynote speaker is Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $45 each. To make a reservation, call party headquarters at 330-629-7006.

Meet and greet: The Trumbull County Democratic Party will have a meet and greet event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at campaign headquarters, 5580 Youngstown Road #1, across from the Eastwood Mall in Niles.

At the event will be party officers, elected county Democratic officials, candidates, central committee members and activists. Pizza and refreshments will be served. Tickets are $14 and may be obtained by calling Cosmo 330-501-3628 or Dan at 330-233-2024.

If a citizen-initiative Youngstown charter amendment to ban fracking isn’t approved in the May 6 primary, it likely never will in its present form.

Expected poor voter turnout combined with a rash of earthquakes in Poland Township last month in which the Ohio Department of Natural Resources found a “probable” connection to fracking gives the amendment its best opportunity to be passed.

Numerous quakes that hit Youngstown in 2012 that were linked to an injection well didn’t sway enough city voters in May 2013 — a similar charter amendment lost by 13.7 percentage points.

An amendment identical to the one on the May 6 ballot lost by 9.7 percentage points in November 2013.


Though fracking is touted by its supporters as an industry that will save the Mahoning Valley’s economy — a return to the thriving steel-mill days — there is a lot of uncertainty with the industry.

One problem is that ODNR doesn’t have thorough geologic mapping of the state even though it’s in charge of administering drilling licenses.

So the agency permits oil and gas companies to frack sometimes without knowing if the activity is on or near faults.

The companies usually seek that data from third parties who share it only with the companies paying for the survey as the information is considered proprietary.

We can assume companies aren’t going to invest money in drilling and injection well locations that are on or near faults, but we have a few examples of that not being the case in the Valley.

While this area appears to be ideal for fracking, perhaps this area’s geology isn’t the best fit for the industry.

We simply don’t know.

So ODNR has been reactive rather than proactive when it comes to these problems.

The area has been fortunate that the quakes haven’t caused serious damage.

Even with that uncertainty, the anti-fracking charter amendment has a lot of obstacles to overcome.

This area is desperate for jobs — even just the hope of jobs — and fracking can potentially provide employment if local residents have the proper training.

There’s also the issue of money.

The latest campaign finance reports, filed Thursday taking in the time from Jan. 1 to April 16, shows the anti-fracking charter committee raised $6,328 and spent $4,479 to $40,949 spent by those opposed to the amendment.

The Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, the organization funding the opposition campaign, files reports with the Mahoning County Board of Elections that only requires them to disclose how much they spend.

Also, the issue of the proposed amendment’s language is a problem.

Far reaching

I wrote “present form” in the first sentence because the amendment, with the catchy title of Community Bill of Rights, is far reaching. It could be construed to have those who drive a car be charged with violating it.

The other issue is enforcement because state law gives control over fracking to the ODNR. While opponents of the amendment say it’s not enforceable, they are concerned if it passes that it will end up being bogged down in court while scaring away fracking and fracking-related companies from the city.

That wouldn’t be a bad thing, amendment supporters say.

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