Fourth try for frack bill

YOUNGSTOWN – A group opposed to unconventional methods of oil and natural gas drilling is making its fourth attempt in about two years to outlaw drilling-related activity within city limits.

The group, known as FrackFree Mahoning Valley, on Tuesday announced it had collected a sufficient number of signatures in an attempt to put the issue on the Youngstown ballot for the fourth time.

If the issue, known as the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights, is certified by the Mahoning County Board of Elections, it will appear on the November election ballot for Youngstown voters.

A group of businesses and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, calling itself the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, has consistently opposed the measure. That group also renewed its fight against the measure, calling it “another job-killing city charter amendment.”

“It is unbelievable that Youngstown citizens must vote again on this ill-conceived charter amendment aimed at driving jobs and companies out of Youngstown,” said Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the chamber.

“Those pushing this amendment have finally admitted that this is not really about ‘fracking,’ which is not occurring in Youngstown and the city has no authority to regulate. It is about a radical anti-development, anti-business agenda aimed at controlling all business operations in Youngstown,” he said.

Humphries called the amendment “dangerous” and said if it passes, it would place a closed-for-business sign on the community.

Humphries’ comments were echoed by other local business and labor leaders.

Susie Beiersdorfer, a Community Bill of Rights committee member, said, however, the group has received positive response as they circulated petitions.

“The trend has been that we are getting closer to winning each time this goes on the ballot, and this is for a good reason,” she said.