Appalachian Basin

Eighth Consecutive Loss for CELDF in Youngstown

For the eighth consecutive time, the citizens of Youngstown have voted overwhelmingly against a Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) initiative aimed at banning fracking and all fossil fuel-related activity within the city limits.

Unofficial results show nearly 57 percent of the city’s voters rejected the proposal – nearly identical to the margin on the seventh failed attempt.

City voters rejected similar ballot measures six times between 2013 and 2016: twice in both 2013 and 2014, and once each in 2015 and 2016. The group – under the guise of the all-too-familiar “Community Bill of Rights” – again attempted to repackage and re-purpose what ultimately amounts to a symbolic ban on fracking.

As in years past, the Youngstown Vindicator editorial board joined a chorus in urging voters to stop the “job-killing” madness. Again:

“What part of ‘no’ – multiplied tens of thousands of times over in votes over five years – do the self-appointed do-gooder backers of the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights don’t understand?

“Apparently not much, given their foolish and unrelenting pursuit of their misguided and foolhardy proposal.

“After all, responsible and civic-minded Youngstown residents have convincingly and resoundingly said no to the jobs-killing initiative seven times over now – from 2013 to the 2018 primary election.”

The effort was again opposed by a broad, diverse coalition of Youngstown city officials, community and business leaders, and labor groups, many of whom joined in the Mahoning Valley Jobs and Growth Coalition. Following the vote, the coalition reiterated the clearly stated (eight times) fact residents of Youngstown are not inclined to support the out-of-state driven effort:

“We urge the backers of the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights to stop abusing our electoral system by repeatedly placing this amendment on the ballot. In rejecting this amendment eight times, Youngstown voters have made it crystal clear they don’t want this proposed charter amendment. Continuing to place it on the ballot in the future will only serve to waste our tax dollars on election administration costs – tax dollars that could otherwise be spent bettering our community.”

The repeated attempts, and subsequent rejections of the initiative has been a costly endeavor for the city, with a burden more than $180,000 placed on the backs of taxpayers.

Despite repeated failures, unfortunately this is unlikely to be the last time voters have to face (and fund) the issue on the ballot. Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of the Committee for the Youngstown Water Protection Bill of Rights, stated as much to the Vindicator following the seventh defeat:  “It’s not like we’re going to stop. Our motto is we don’t lose until we quit.”

Thankfully the resolve of an informed electorate has stayed steadfast in opposition, a trend that will continue should the group continue to ignore the will of the voters, and attempt to foil the city of Youngstown with yet another fruitless fracking ban.


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