Appalachian Basin

With Anti-Fracking Lawsuit Struck Down, CELDF Activists Cashing In on Backs of Ohio Taxpayers

As EID recently reported, 83 percent of anti-fracking ballot measures in Ohio have been defeated, ruled invalid, or are pending. Despite this fact, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) continues to abuse Ohio taxpayers with frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to try to manipulate Ohio laws and place unenforceable measures on local ballots.

This week the Ohio Supreme Court again voted unanimously against another CELDF lawsuit, which tried to force an invalid “Community Bill of Rights” in Medina County onto the November ballot.  While these defeats and continued court rulings are almost starting to become comical, unfortunately for the people who live and work in Ohio, they are anything but, as taxpayers have to foot the bill. What’s worse is that CELDF’s Pennsylvania-based founder, Thomas Linzey, stated publicly that bankrupting a town may be “exactly what is needed”.  He said:

“And 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.”

This latest court case underscores a very important question regarding these efforts: Who is actually reaping the benefits from these failed ballot measures and frivolous lawsuits? CELDF, Thomas Linzey, and the lawyers who work with them, such as Ohio’s anti-fracking go-to lawyer, Terry Lodge, who ironically is a “bankruptcy attorney” would be the ones cashing in. Attorney Terry Lodge is also “a long-time critic of the corporate state, he has represented opponents of nuclear weapons, antiwar activists, opponents of mountaintop removal, and more”.

CELDF’s & Thomas Linzey’s Try to Cash In from Anti-Fracking Efforts

While they would like folks to believe their “local” efforts are pure, in reality CELDF and its lawyers are nothing more than a marketing machine focused on lining their own pockets. Since they got involved in local control issue, CELDF’s coffers have swelled to over $1.4 million in assets. However, CELDF’s most recent 2014 tax filings showed that their failed efforts are starting to hurt their checkbook as they lost $113,965 in contributions from the previous year.

But what about their founder,Thomas Linzey? Last year he went on his book tour in Ohio, targeting the same towns where they have tried to pass ballot measures.  He’s been on this tour in other states as well.

In addition, Gasland director Josh Fox sits on the board of CELDF and it appears he encouraged Linzey to get into the movie business as CELDF is about to produce a film called “We the People 2.0.” The film will be presented by Tree Media, which is currently promoting Green World Rising, a series narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. CELDF announced their plan to take on Hollywood just a few months ago:

“Coming soon! Tree Media and CELDF present We the People 2.0 – The Second American Revolution, a film about CELDF’s work to mobilize the Community Rights and Rights of Nature movement across the country.We the People 2.0 shares stories from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oregon, where communities are organizing against fracking, sludging of farmland, and other harmful corporate practices…Watch the trailer and see the film when it’s released later this year. Host a screening and get involved by organizing in your community and state.”

CELDF’s “Bankruptcy Lawyer” Cashes In On Anti-Fracking Efforts, Too

Ohio’s go-to anti-fracking lawyer, Terry Lodge, is certainly making out on all these failed ballot measures. He’s not only representing CELDF, such as in this most recent frivolous lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court, he’s also cashing in from individuals, as he continues to solicit new clients.  Take a look an article by the Toledo Blade entitled, “Law firm soliciting landowners to fight NEXUS gas pipeline.” According to the article,

“Northwest Ohio property owners trying to keep NEXUS Gas Transmission from gaining access to their land through eminent domain laws are being encouraged by a Columbus law firm to attend a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. today inside Waterville’s Conrad Park Recreation Building.Goldman & Braunstein, LLP, said in a flyer that property owners need to “understand this process and know your rights early on. Any[thing] less is like bringing a knife to a gunfight,” the flyer states.”

Attorney Lodge has been taking his show on the road with CELDF and has traveled all over the state, as stated last year in an article by the Athens News,

“10 citizens are represented by Cincinnati attorney James Kinsman and Toledo attorney Terry J. Lodge. Both work with the Pennsylvania-based group, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF),that helps local communities’ efforts to ban and/or restrict oil and gas drilling and other perceived industrial/corporate threats.”

However, CELDF & Attorney Lodge Are Not Winning on the Measures

One thing that we have learned as these 29 ballot measures have played out in Ohio is that CELDF continues to “tweak” its strategies in the hope that they can manipulate Ohio election laws and procedures. In this most recent ballot measure in Medina County, CELDF tried to change the form of government to skirt legal issues that came up when they tried the same dog and pony show last year.  However, once again, their legal counsel proved to be unenforceable and invalid.

Not surprisingly, when Medina County Board of Elections and Ohio’s election chief made this determination, CELDF cried foul. Terry Lodge, the go-to lawyer for anti-fracking groups across the state, said,

“Secretary Husted is attempting to thwart, for the second straight year, the people’s right to vote on a vital matter of local control.”

CELDF responded to the decision by putting out a hit piece on Secretary Jon Husted, and Terry Lodge filed a frivolous lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking a “writ of mandamus” against both Ohio’s Secretary of State and the Medina County Board of Elections, which would have essentially forced them to put the measure on the ballot. Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously consented with the decision made by Ohio’s election chief. One opinion of the court even stated,

“In my view, the charter petition at issue fails to even come to being a legitimate effort” (emphasis added)


It has become abundantly clear that the only goal of these groups pushing “local control” measures is to cash in on Ohio taxpayers by any means possible. Whether it means selling books, a play at Hollywood stardom, or direct legal services, this election season proves that CELDF and the lawyers they work with are only in it for themselves.


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