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Youngstown voters again kill anti-fracking charter change

Published: Thu, May 8, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Proponents of the charter amendment to ban fracking and other related gas and oil exploration activities in Youngstown have been shunned for the third time by city voters, but they’re refusing to take “no” for an answer.

They have promised to keep placing the issue on the ballot until they get a “yes” vote. Should they make good on that promise, they will be deserving of city government’s contempt and Youngstown residents’ ridicule.

Enough is enough.

Not only has this exercise in futility become a waste of taxpayer dollars — it costs money to place an issue on the ballot — but it is an abuse of the electoral process.

There aren’t any new arguments the proponents can make that will change the minds of the voters. The fracking-is-evil mantra has been heard over and over, and each time the results at the polls have been the same.

A defeat is just that after the third time — and the margin does not matter.

Ever since the issue was unveiled in 2013, we have tried to find some basis for supporting the amendment. We’ve failed in that regard.

Instead, we keep returning to the foundational argument against the charter amendment: It is unconstitutional and, therefore, unenforceable.

There also is the inconclusiveness of the science as to the dangers that may be presented by the hydraulic-facturing process used to extract oil and gas from shale formations deep beneath the earth’s surface.

The debate over fracking boils down to this: Supporters of the process contend it has been used for generations with few or no documented causes of a direct link between fracking and, for instance, the contamination of well water.

Opponents argue that fracking is a grave threat to the environment, and that the chemicals used in the process could ultimately affect our drinking water. They also point to recent tremors in Poland as proof that drilling deep into the earth is a disaster waiting to happen.

In the end, however, residents of the city of Youngstown were faced with this question: If the charter amendment violates the state and U.S. constitutions and is, therefore, unenforceable, what’s the point in passing it?

The results of Tuesday’s primary election make clear they don’t see a reason to adopt something just to make themselves feel good.

The vote

The issue failed by a vote of 3,674 to 3,100, according to complete but unofficial totals from the board of elections.

Last November, the charter amendment was defeated 5,824 to 4,831. In May 2013, it was rejected by a vote of 3,837 to 2,912.

In light of those results, we urge proponents to abandon this exercise in futility and adopt another strategy for achieving their professed goal: protecting the environment.

Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, former city law director and former county commissioner, is not an unreasonable man. We’re confident he would be willing to work with the anti-fracking coalition to address members’ legitimate concerns, such as the protection of Meander Reservoir, the source of drinking water for Youngstown, Niles, McDonald and suburban communities.

That said, the time has come to pull the plug on the anti-fracking charter amendment.


1Southside_Res(172 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago

In the past twenty years of reading editorials, I have to say that this one is so disappointing. You have shown that just everyone has an opinion about this topic. Your stance happens to be the wrong one. For all of the opponents against the proposed charter amendment, no one, and I'm going to say this again, no one provided any data to support a conclusion that such an amendment would muffle economic development and/or jobs. There is plenty of data to support that fracking causes earthquakes and produces untold environmental destruction. Lord knows, we've already seen enough of it already here in Youngstown. Let fracking continue and have one of those tremors put cracks in your ceiling at home, or worse yet, and you'd be singing a different tune. The end result is that this editorial reflects more idiocy than anything else.

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2ytownsteelman(628 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago

A crack in a ceiling is considered "untold environmental destruction"? Lets really look at what has happened here in Youngstown. Yes we have had a few earthquakes. They were small, barely causing any damage and the regulators took action to prevent it from happening again. So the earthquake issue is dead. As for the cracks, buy some spackle. Lowes is open until 9pm.

We had one person dump some fracking fluids in the Mahoning River. It was cleaned up and the perp was convicted. I have not read of any "untold environmental damage" from that spill. frack fluid itself is hardly toxic, and diluting it in the river made it even less so.

Those two events are the sum total of the "untold environmental destruction" caused by the gas industry in the valley.

The ballot process is designed to be a one time affair and not a club to continue beating people with until they submit. The people said no THREE TIMES!

The people know that there really is little danger of a well being sited anywhere near the residential areas of the city. There are simply too many landowners to deal with and too much abandoned land. It would be a landman's nightmare to get enough acreage signed up. That is unfortunate because a few years ago the bonus was $5,000 an acre. Money like that would be a great windfall to people living in the 'hoods who have been living in poverty for decades. But the antifrackers would rather keep those people poor.

One last thing. Who wrote the charter amendment? Did he or she flunk civics? A city charter does not overrule a state Constitution or the US Constitution. So why put language in there to that effect? If you are going to do this then at least make the language as bulletproof as possible. just reading the text told me about the seriousness of your entire effort. Why waste your time and money supporting an effort that is unquestionably unenforceable?

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3Southside_Res(172 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago


I love people who don't even know what they're talking about. That dump in the Mahoning River cost taxpayers around $1 million to clean up. Did any offender pay that?! Noooooo. A brilliant come back.

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4tookie(64 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago

I love the way the anti-frackers continue to try and scare people with phrases like "untold environmental destruction" and "devastation" to be caused by fracking. The number of wells in Ohio that have been drilled is nearing the 1,000 mark. Where's all the environmental destruction and devastation? Where are the polluted water wells? I saw a story recently that liquid manure spread by a farmer on his land north of the Valley caused several water wells in the area to be contaminated. Maybe the anti-frackers should turn their attention to stopping farming.

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5YtownParent(324 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago

Hyperbole rarely helps any case. In environmental causes, Hyperbole like "untold environmental destruction", "complete contamination", "utter destruction" and "will leave the area a wasteland" turn more rational voters against conservation than for it.

I will keep voting against the amendment and will keep running the petitioners off my property as long as it is remains a wordy, convoluted mess. Come back with an amendment that is brief, concise and will stand up in court. Drop the hyperbolic spinning and give rational examples where it's done harm. Then you might have a chance of gaining support for a fracking ban.

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6JoMarko(49 comments)posted 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm sure if the poisons make their way to your family or if the earthquakes damage your property that the energy companies will be right there to work with the you to remedy the situation, they can be trusted! snort, for the slow among us yes that was sarcasm.

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