Youngstown voters reject fracking ban, again

YOUNGSTOWN – A proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas-related activities inside Youngstown city limits fell at the polls for a second time Tuesday.

Youngstown voters defeated another attempt to change the city’s charter, 54.8 percent against to 45.1 percent for, according to incomplete unofficial results.

The ballot issue was opposed by a group of political and business leaders who said the amendment would have hurt existing well owners, and that it sent the wrong message to companies in the drilling industry that wanted to do business here.

Also, supporters said the prohibitions would have been unenforceable.

Supporters of what was called the ”Community Bill of Rights” said it would ensure citizens’ rights to safe drinking water, clean air and land and to local self-governance. There’s also concern over the effects drilling may have on the environment in the city.

Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, a member of the anti-charter amendment Coalition for Job and Investment, said he was ”elated” with the outcome, and that he hopes there is not a third attempt.

”The voters have spoken twice,” Humphries said. ”If you look at the raw numbers, there is a bigger gap this time than last. ”

Butch Taylor, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, which put up money to fight the amendment called the measure a ”jobs-killer.”

Susie Beiersdorfer, one of the leaders of FrackFree Mahoning Valley, which brought the charter change proposal, said the group plans another attempt.

”We plan to work to educate people on the risks to public health and safety,” Beiersdorfer said.