Appalachian Basin

Democrat Chairman on CELDF Ban-Fracking Amendment: “This is a Total Waste of Taxpayers’ Precious Funds”

Today, the Mahoning County Democrat Party in a unanimous vote announced its opposition to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s (CELDF) fifth attempt to push an anti-fracking “Community Bill of Rights” in Youngstown. Mahoning County Democrat Party Chairman, David Betras stated,

“The members of the executive committee were unanimous in opposition to amending the charter banning fracking. The group knows full well this is a total waste of the taxpayers’ precious funds. ” (emphasis added)

After urging city residents to vote “no” on the fifth ballot measure, he also noted that the CELDF “Community Bill of Rights” is nothing more than a “job-killing amendment.”

In the news release, the Mahoning County Democrat Party further stated:

“The charter amendment is yet another attempt to ban fracking in the city of Youngstown. This is the fifth bite at the apple. The anti -fracking group has stated it doesn’t care that the Ohio Supreme court has taken away local control and knows full well the charter amendment is not constitutional.”(emphasis added)

The Mahoning County Democrat Party is joined in its outrage by Youngstown Mayor John McNally (D) and a coalition of labor, business, and elected officials who have formed the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment to speak out against the amendment.  As Mayor McNally said,

“I do think it’s a larger issue than just the City of Youngstown. The folks that are involved, the folks that drafted it are all out of state folks that are pushing an agenda…that is detrimental to the City of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.” (emphasis added)

This Pennsylvania based group does not seem to care about the law, or the people they claim to protect, as their failed ballot measures continue to prove. Again and again, their efforts have been overturned by courts. Most recently, a federal judge tossed their “Rights of Nature” campaign, when CELDF filed a motion to intervene on a lawsuit to represent the rights of an ecosystem. Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter, ruled against the measure stating,

 “As to the issue of whether the Little Mahoning Watershed, an ecosystem, has standing under the law, no determination need be made here. Clear and convincing evidence has not been produced to show that [the township’s] vigorous defense of the Ordinance, the terms of which protect the Watershed in all of its locations, do not line up precisely.” (emphasis added)

This isn’t CELDF’s first experience with rejection. According to Reuters,

“So far, five of the communities that have adopted CELDF-written ordinances, including Grant Township, have had them challenged in court, and one decided to repeal its measure after a federal judge ruled against it. The other communities say they don’t expect to win.”

Still, CELDF continues to make taxpayers foot the bill, as is evident by this statement from CELDF’s founder Thomas Linzey who said,

“If a town goes bankrupt trying to defend one of our ordinances, well, perhaps that’s exactly what is needed to trigger a national movement.”

CELDF now has its sights set on Colorado in an attempt to get a ban-fracking initiative on the state’s 2016 ballot. This effort is a replay of last year’s Amendment 75 which never gained enough support to make it on the ballot. That alone should have been enough for CELDF to drop the cause, knowing it’s not supported by Colorado’s taxpayers, but once again the group will try to push its anti-fracking agenda at someone else’s expense. Like Colorado, CELDF has cost Youngstown taxpayers over $50,000 and counting to put the measure on the ballot four failed times.

It appears the more voters learn about CELDF, the more groups like the Mahoning County Democrat Party speak out in opposition.



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