Energy

Ohio Enviros Pushing Same Local Fracking Bans That Failed 5 Times Before

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Ohio environmentalists are trying to get local governments to ban fracking again this election, despite past failures to get such a state law on the books.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) have gotten a measure to ban fracking on the ballot Youngstown and Waterville. The measure is opposed by the local government, unions, business leaders and even the local media.The city’s lawyers have already determined that any ban would probably be illegal and “will not be enforceable.”

“The City of Youngstown taxpayers have already spent over $80,000 just to put the measure on the ballot, only to have the voters say ‘no’ five consecutive times,” Jackie Stewart, the Ohio director of the pro-industry group Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “CELDF knows the amendment is not enforceable and would not hold up in court, yet they continue their antics. Even in a polarizing political year, members of both parties, business leaders, unions, and elected officials have loudly reject the amendment, and even the media is calling the measure a ‘potentially destructive community bill of goods.’”

Even if the measure is enacted, it could not be enforced because the Ohio Supreme Court has already ruled in another case that only the state government has authority over oil and gas drilling in the state. This means that any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.”

Several state and federal courts have concluded that only the state governments have the legal authority to regulate fracking. The oil and gas industry of most states, including Ohio, has historically been regulated by state, not local, government.

Environmental groups The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, and local groups currently support local bans on fracking. Campaign finance disclosure reports show that these environmentalist groups have donated time and money supporting local fracking bans initiatives, including time to collect signatures and advertisements for signature gatherers on behalf of the initiative. Activists with these groups are calling the initiatives “the biggest,” most important fight on behalf of the environment this year.

Fracking has become an extremly important part of Ohio’s economy in recent years. Ohio is producing 1,000 percent more oil and natural gas than it was in 2006. according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Fracking allowed America to produce 79 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in 2015, breaking the previous record by 5 percent, according to the EIA. Most of that natural gas boom in 2015 was concentrated in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Together, these states accounted for 35 percent of total American natural gas production while the rest of the country saw a modest decline.

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