Small Ohio Town Spent More Than $185k Trying To Ban Fracking

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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An Ohio city spent more than $185,000 on a series of anti-hydraulic fracturing ballot measures that would violate state law, according to public records obtained by a local CBS affiliate.

Records on the city of Youngstown were given to WKBN news by the pro-fracking group Energy In Depth and suggest the seventh ballot measure will cost the town another $36,000.

“Unfortunately for the City of Youngstown, it has had no choice but to pick up the tab for these six failed ballot measures, which include costs from required advertising, printing the ballots and employing poll workers,” Jackie Stewart, Ohio director for Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Even if the measure is enacted, it would have no force of law. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2015 the state government has sole authority over oil and gas drilling. Any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable,” according to the ruling.

But that didn’t stop environmental activists. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) helped get a measure to ban fracking on the ballot in Youngstown and Waterville. City lawyers, however, determined any ban would “not be enforceable.”

Environmental groups have increasingly turned to local fracking bans to stop drilling operations. Campaign finance reports show national environmental groups have pumped time and money into local fracking ban initiatives.

“What’s happened in Youngstown is a group called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund — an extreme Pennsylvania-based environmental activist group that has worked in concert with a handful of anti-fracking locals — have continued to abuse this city with frivolous ballot measures,” Stewart said.

“The ballot measure is not supported by the voters of Youngstown, as it has been rejected six consecutive times,” Stewart said. “The Ohio Supreme Court and a myriad of other courts have also ruled against local control matters repeatedly and have made it abundantly clear that fracking is regulated at the state level.”

Fracking has become an extremely 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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