EID REPORT: Overwhelming Majority of Ohio Ban-Fracking Ballot Measures Struck Down
This year has marks another election season of failure for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and their local control initiatives. Recently, Ohio’s Secretary of State John Husted ruled that the countywide so-called Community Bill of Rights fracking bans are “invalid” and therefore will not be moving forward to the ballot box in November. This decision came after local county board of elections, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce all spoke out against these measures due to the harm they would impose on Ohio communities.
Ohio isn’t alone. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams just announced that anti-fracking local control ballot measures will not be placed on Colorado’s statewide November ballot, as activists failed to obtain the necessary valid signatures. In fact, Colorado’s election chief said their petition processing team “identified a petition section that contains several potentially forged signature lines.” Sound familiar? It should— because the same thing happened in Columbus, Ohio just last year when the so-called “Community Bill of Rights” in the City of Columbus failed, as activist groups submitted thousands of invalid signatures.
As a result of this chain of events, EID decided to take a look at just how badly CELDF and others have abused communities with their tricks, and consequently how many times local citizens have rejected their ideologies. We found that, believe it or not, Ohio has been a top target over the years.
CELDF has attempted at least 29 local control measures in Ohio since 2011, and 83 percent of the measures have been ruled invalid or have failed outright. Importantly, the seventeen percent that passed were in areas where no fracking is occurring, constituting more of a media stunt than anything else.
Here’s the breakdown (Click on the graphic to access hyperlinks):
And here are three things you need to know about these “local” Community Bill of Rights:
- Anti-fracking “Local” bans are not “local.”
These “local” bans are of course supported by CELDF, the “Keep-It-In-the-Ground” campaign team, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, and a several other national anti-fracking groups. The playbook is always the same, they attempt to seem “local,” and use a narrative of “empowering” smaller communities to impose their disastrous agenda on them.
- Anti-fracking ballot measures are mostly media stunts – only succeed in areas without fracking.
Our research also highlights that where fracking is occurring, voters reject anti-fracking bans. This fact was also recently highlighted by the Wall Street Journal, which noted that where ballot measures have passed, there is no shale activity occurring and “the movement so far has failed to stop fracking where it is happening.” This means that the initiatives are largely symbolic in nature. After all, why would there be a need to pass a measure that prohibits an activity that is not occurring in a community? It is nonsensical, unless the purpose is to create a media stunt.
Nowhere is this more true than Ohio, where out of 29 ballot measures, the 5 that have passed have all been in areas where there has been no unconventional shale development. To date, only one challenge has come to these five ballot measures, in the case of Broadview Heights. When challenged, that measure was overturned in court. These actions combined with the CELDF’s general misunderstanding of Ohio State and local law prompted Broadview Height’s Mayor, Sam Alai, to call their antics “plain ignorant”.
- Local communities are fed up with anti-fracking ballot measures.
After five years and 29 attempts of failed local control campaigns, communities in Ohio are speaking out. Republican and Democrats in Ohio agree that local control anti-fracking ballot measures are the wrong recipe for their communities.
Republican Medina County Commissioner, Adam Friedrick stated that he opposed the so-called Community Bill of Righty charter amendment as it would be bad for residents and negatively affect businesses, he told the local paper, “nature doesn’t have rights, people have rights”.
In Youngstown, voters will go to the ballot box for the 6th time to reject the Community Bill of Rights, so far, costing the city tens of thousands and counting, to which the Democrat, Mayor of Youngstown said,
“The residents of the city are tired of hearing about this issue.”
To put into context just how extremely out-of-touch these outliers are in Ohio, take a look at this editorial in the Youngstown Vindicator. The editorial is entitled, Frick & Frack Are Back. Here are a few statements from the editorial on the upcoming ballot initiative in Youngstown,
“In other words, it doesn’t matter how many times and by how many votes city residents tell these self-styled protectors of society to pound salt. They will continue to push their absurd campaign via the ballot… And if you want to understand just how far they’re willing to go to scare the residents of Youngstown, consider this statement from Susie Beiersdorfer:“ … voters want to keep our drinking water clean and want the right of local control over whether shale-gas infrastructure such as drilling, injection wells, pipelines, compressor stations, radioactive-waste streams can locate in our community. Who has the right to decide: the people in the community or drilling and waste-disposal corporations? Do the people have the right to self-govern to protect their health, safety and happiness or do the corporations have a right to profit no matter the cost to the people and the community?” The residents of the city have answered that question loudly and clearly with their votes: twice in 2013, twice in 2014 and last November.”
The bottom line is that taxpayers in Ohio are under attack by fringe environmental extremist groups who masquerade their “local” campaigns under the auspice of a national movement which targets areas where drilling is not occurring as a PR stunt.
Luckily Ohioans have rejected their attempts 83 percent of the time (and 100 percent of the time in areas where drilling is actually occurring). Our research underscores an important fact— Ohio communities overwhelmingly support oil and natural gas development. Republican and Democrats in the Buckeye State know that we can in fact develop Utica shale, create jobs, boost our economy, all while protecting our environment. They are not mutually exclusive from each other. As Harvard University reported-shale development is a win-win for Ohio’s economy and our environment.