Youngstown voters have rejected the anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment three times, but supporters says they won’t give up even if it’s defeated again in the Nov. 4 election.
“This is a long-term struggle,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of the bill of rights committee. “Our local and state governments are broken. They’re putting corporations before the health, safety and property rights of citizens.”
The committee has “tweaked” the charter amendment-proposal on this ballot by removing separate sections protecting the rights to “clean air and clean water” and including those in a provision giving people the “right to a sustainable energy future,” Beiersdorfer said.
“We wanted to shorten [the ballot language] as it’s been too long in the past,” she said. “You can’t put, ‘Do you want fracking? Yes or no.’”
In May 2013, a similar proposed fracking ban in the city lost by 13.7 percentage points. It lost by 9.7 percentage points in November 2013, and by 8.3 percentage points in May 2014.
The proposal would ban fracking in Youngstown even though opponents and state officials say it isn’t enforceable because those decisions are made by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Despite that, Butch Taylor, business manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, which opposes the proposal, said, “We look at it as a detriment to the jobs that are being created. We don’t want to limit any of our options. There’s been growth in shale development, and there’s potential for greater growth. This could impact that.”
The union has raised $71,203 toward this campaign to defeat the anti-fracking charter amendment compared with $2,513 for the Community Bill of Rights committee, according to the latest campaign filing.
“I am disappointed we have to keep campaigning against this,” Taylor said. “Their fight is with the state.”
Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally said he expects voters to reject this ballot proposal again.
“I respect the group who is pushing the measure,” he said. “But to be honest, I don’t see widespread concerns that anything related to shale drilling is a threat to our community.”
Beiersdorfer points to earthquakes caused by drilling as a danger to the community.