Appalachian Basin

Ohio Anti-Fracking Initiatives Struck Down, Ruled Invalid

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has hit another wall as its anti-fracking “Community Bill of Rights” initiative submitted for the November ballot in Meigs County has been ruled invalid by a 4-0 vote by the county Board of Elections. As the Athens Messenger reported,

“In a letter to the commissioners, the elections board stated that the proposed charter does not meet the threshold requirements of Ohio Revised Code 302.02 because it seeks to create an alternative form of government without the requirement of having an elected or appointed county executive.” (emphasis added)

That’s not the only blow to the anti-fracking crowd: earlier this week, in Summit County, Judge Paul Gallagher said that an ordinance of the city of Munroe Falls requiring an oil and gas company to apply for a zoning certificate was invalid. Referencing a decision made by the Ohio Supreme Court in February 2015, Judge Gallagher wrote “the Ohio Supreme Court determined that requiring a zoning certificate under [city ordinances] is preempted by [state law].”

All of this comes just after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted struck down three ban-fracking initiatives in August of 2015. Husted cited the measures as a “violation of provisions of statutory and Ohio constitutional law.” According the Secretary’s press release:

“The issue of whether local communities can get around state laws on fracking has already been litigated,” Secretary Husted said. “Allowing these proposals to proceed will only serve a false promise that wastes taxpayer’s time and money and will eventually end in sending the charters to certain death in the courts.”

Husted’s authority to declare the ballot initiatives invalid was supported by the Ohio Supreme Court in September of last year.

These two developments are just the latest in a long string of defeats for CELDF and similar groups, yet they continue to push these ungrounded and costly ballot measures on communities in Ohio and across the country.

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