Drilling Down

Anti-Fracking Group to Submit Signatures for Ballot Issue

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – This November city voters will again – for the seventh time since May 2013 – vote on a ballot issue to restrict activity related to oil and gas extraction in the city.

The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee will hold a news conference Monday to announce it has secured the necessary number of signatures to place such an issue on a city ballot.

The activitists will hold their event at 2:15 p.m. in front of City Hall, according to a media advisory. Following a brief news conference, the committee will deliver the signatures to the clerk of City Council’s office to be submitted to the Mahoning County Board of Elections for certification.

The seventh version of the Community Bill of Rights charter amendment is one of two issues the committee announced in early June that it would seek signatures for.

The new anti-fracking ballot question, in addition to placing restrictions on oil and gas activity in the city limits such as drilling wells and disposing of drilling waste, would also require water and wastewater money to be used for water quality and wastewater improvements, and not to promote economic development through wastewater grants, as the city has in the past.

The second petition announced last month was for a city charter amendment that would restrict to registered voters in the city the ability to make campaign contributions and cap those contributions at $100 per elector per ballot measure or candidate. Corporations, labor unions, political action committees, political parties and other funding entities would be barred from donating to local candidates or issue campaigns, or from spending money “to influence the outcome of any ballot measure or candidate.”

That amendment, if approved, would prevent city government from requiring individuals who wish to speak at meetings to register in advance or seek permission; require meeting agendas be made available 24 hours in advance; and require a form of paper ballot tracking be made available to verify electronic voting results.

Volunteers are still collecting signatures for that petition so it will not be submitted Monday, said geology professor Ray Beiersdorfer, a member of the committee.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.