Appalachian Basin

Court Orders Six-Times-Rejected Youngstown Fracking Ban Measure Appear on Ballot Again

In what is becoming all-too-real-life version of the movie “Groundhog Day,” as an Ohio Supreme Court decision issued this week will require a measure aimed at banning fracking in Youngstown to appear on the May 8 primary election ballot — even though Youngstown voters have rejected the measure six consecutive times.

The 5-2 decision was the Ohio Supreme Court’s latest flip-flop on the issue, as it voted 4-3 in favor of the Mahoning County Board of Elections’ decision to take the measure off the ballot back in 2016.

As EID has catalogued, each time Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s (CELDF) so-called “Community Bill of Rights” is placed on the ballot, it costs taxpayers, and this most recent ballot measure will surely continue to add to the tens of thousands already spent by the taxpayers. This is just one reason why, the Mahoning County Coalition for Job Growth and Investment — a local group of strange bedfellows including business, labor, Republicans and Democrats — called on the community to reject the ballot measure (yet again) shortly after news of the court’s decision was announced, stating,

“By defeating this measure at the ballot six straight times, Youngstown voters have already sent an undeniable message that they do not want this job-killing measure.”

To further highlight this point, Susie Beiersdorfer, the fringe environmental activist spearheading CELDF’s tired effort, has once again stated that the ultimate goal of the attempted fracking ban is to kill jobs and push industries she and her fellow “Keep It In the Ground” cohorts don’t like out of the Mahoning Valley.

“Our number one issue is we should have the right to clean drinking water and that we should have the right to decide, you know, what industry comes into this area.” (Emphasis added)

So how much will the seventh ballot measure cost the City of Youngstown this year? Well, considering the Board of Elections may need to send 1,085 voters individual supplemental ballots via U.S. Mail specifically to accommodate the so-called “Community Bill of Rights,” not to mention the cost of advertising the measure and printing the ballot for the May 8 election, it’s safe to say that the taxpayers will eat thousands. This expense will be added to the tens of thousands of dollars already incurred by taxpayers for the six previously failed attempts. And what about legal costs imposed to the taxpayers every time CELDF invokes its litigation factory against these local communities, like Youngstown?

Sadly, Youngstown is not CELDF’s only prey. It was just last month that EID highlighted the same meritless legal strategy in Colorado. And just four months ago, we reported that a Pennsylvania judge sanctioned CELDF for their “bad faith” efforts to impose similar strategies in that state, finding CELDF’s legal theory “implausible” and “frivolous.” As a reminder, the CELDF attorneys were ordered to pay $52,000 in legal costs. The ongoing abuse to these communities — specifically the City of Youngstown — is truly out of control. The Mahoning County Coalition for Job Growth and Investment are again fighting back, stating,

“By continuing to place this charter amendment on the ballot in clear defiance of that message, those pushing the measure are disrespecting voters and have cost Youngstown taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in election administration costs.” (Emphasis added)

The Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council echoed this frustration, saying,

“We are trying to attract businesses and economic development here and this type of thing is kind of like a wet blanket as far as we’re concerned at the building trades. I wonder if these people during this terrible winter made a campfire or did they take heat from natural gas that was provided to them? Are they driving a horse and buggy or are they driving in a car?”

The Youngstown Vindicator perhaps summed up the situation best, when its editorial board wrote,

“But, Susie and Ray Beiersdorfer, the masterminds of the anti-fracking campaign in Youngstown, have no shame when it comes to being snubbed by the residents of the city. ‘It’s a very important issue to the people of Youngstown,’ Susie Beiersdorfer said in an election-related story in The Vindicator. ‘It’s about local control.’ Implicit in that comment was a message to the residents of Youngstown who have voted ‘no’ on the issue on four separate occasions: You’re too dumb to know what’s in your best interest. The issue was turned down twice in 2013 and twice in 2014. Last November, it was rejected by a vote of 7,323 to 5,373. In the May primary last year, it went down to defeat by a vote of 3,691 to 3,128. In other words, the more the Beiersdorfers and their self-absorbed allies in the anti-fracking movement keep up this exercise in futility, the more they feel the wrath of the people of Youngstown.”

We couldn’t agree more. Enough is enough.

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