Appalachian Basin

Statewide Groups Sound Off Against the Anti-Fracking CELDF

Elected officials, organized labor groups, and industrial, commercial, and agricultural leaders from across Ohio have officially stood up to reject Pennsylvania’s Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and its continued abuse of Ohio’s constitutional law, by filing supporting briefs  to the Ohio Supreme Court against their anti-fracking “Bill of Rights” charter movement.

To this end, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) of Ohio, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation came together to express their unwavering support for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision that county “ban fracking” charter amendments should not be permitted on the ballot this fall.

As a reminder, Secretary Husted recently emphasized that these ballot measures are inviolation of provisions of statutory and Ohio constitutional law.” After Secretary Husted deemed these measures unconstitutional, CELDF’s own Tish O’Dell  filed a complaint demanding that the court overturn his decision.  O’Dell’s complaint alleged that Husted overstepped his authority by upholding protests submitted to his office against the county charter petitions.  O’Dell claims that the Ohio constitution and case law stipulate that local ballot proposals cannot be withdrawn based on their content or substance. The complaint is now being considered in the Ohio Supreme Court.

But it doesn’t look like CELDF is getting much support: last week, CELDF attempted another failed protest in Columbus, where O’Dell was joined by only a handful of friends to voice their concerns over the election chief’s decision.

O'Dell

If all this sounds a bit familiar it’s because last February the high court ruled 4-3 that the Home Rule clause of Ohio’s constitution does not give local governments the authority to supersede drilling activities that are permitted by the state.  This decision specifically speaks to the various local ballot initiatives to ban fracking that activists have been pushing in Ohio, which have been extremely costly to local taxpayers. For example, the city of Youngstown has already forked over $50,000 to put four failed CELDF-authored ballot measures to a vote.  The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule on this latest CELDF inspired complaint very soon.  Meanwhile, Ohio’s election chief has made it clear in a recent press release that he stands by his decision – a decision that elected officials and groups across the state clearly agree with.

Ohio is not alone in the ongoing abuse by CELDF.  As EID has reported, Colorado, Illinois, and New Mexico, have all been  targeted  by  CELDF, a group that has openly acknowledged that bankrupting communities is “what is needed” to further their “rights of nature” movement.

Depending on the outcome of this latest round with the Ohio Supreme Court, we can assume that Ohio will be subjected to another favorite tactic of CELDF– the statewide ballot campaign.  This campaign is likely to be similar to the operation launched recently in Colorado under the guise of Coloradans for Community Rights (COCR). That Colorado campaign included tweaking the ballot language that added the word “natural” before “persons” so that corporations cannot be viewed as persons under the law. Of course, this is the same group that recently filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, on behalf of the ecosystem.

The statewide groups that have made their voices heard to the Ohio Supreme Court represent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, job-creators, laborers, and elected officials.  Together they constitute a significant cross-section of the Buckeye State.  Meanwhile, CELDF struggles to gain traction and shows itself to be nothing more than the loose coalition of activists.

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