Frack ban on ballot in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN – An amendment to the city’s charter will ban fracking while also ensuring residents clean air and water.

The amendment was placed on the ballot by several groups that are concerned about what effect drilling for oil and natural gas in the region would do to the environment in the city.

The amendment would ban the process of fracking in trying to extract natural gas from the ground.

It also would ban transportation of oilfield waste through the city, ban creation of pipelines and other midstream facilities and ban corporations from using other corporations to engage in extraction of water from any surface in Youngstown for use in extracting shale gas or oil within city limits, along with other restrictions.

Susie Beiersdorfer is a geologist who has helped get the amendment on the ballot. She said the ban is needed to ensure that the public’s right to health and safety is protected because regulations failed.

She cited the alleged dumping of waste into the Mahoning River ordered by D&L Energy owner Ben Lupo and several earthquakes as proof that drilling is a public hazard. She said a change is made so that local governments, not the state, can control what goes on in their communities.

”The (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) has failed,” Biersdofer said. ”What we want is a return to the rule of law that is in our constitution.”

Beiersdorfer said the effort to educate the public began in November of 2011, and has continued with forums and speakers on the dangers of drilling and they have also spoken at City Council meetings and at other government meetings throughout Mahoning County.

In April, a group calling itself the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment formed to oppose the amendment. Made up of business and political leaders in the region, they claim that the amendment would hurt existing well owners and send the wrong message to companies that specialize in drilling and looking to do business here.

The group also wants to promote education and safety.

Beiersdorfer said the steel industry also made promises to citizens and instead left the area and put thousands out of work. She said some studies show already the number of jobs predicted with the drilling boom have fallen short.

”We don’t want to be a sacrifice zone any longer,” Beiersdorfer said.