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Environment


Youngstown anti-fracking amendment will go to voters
But what they say in May may change nothing
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


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Tim Rudell
 
The square in downtown Youngstown
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In The Region:

Supporters call it a “community Bill of Rights.”  Others say it is a study in futility.  Still, an initiative to ban fracking in the city of Youngstown will go the voters there in the May 7 election.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports.

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City Council tonight approved putting a charter amendment on the ballot that would prohibit oil and gas drilling in Youngstown.

Members said they had no choice because a citizens group presented petitions with more than double the 1,500 signatures needed to put the issue before voters. They also said the amendment twill not matter even if it passes because it can’t be enforced. 

According to an expert in Ohio constitutional law, they’re right.  Paul Richert of the University of Akron says the state Legislature took all control over oil and gas away from local jurisdictions 25 years ago to get rid of myriad overlapping, sometimes technically unsound regulations among counties, townships, cities and villages.

And, he says, state law normally trumps local law, so home rule initiatives like Youngstown’s charter amendment aren’t the way to go to regain control.

 “The only way change is likely to come is if people across the state push state legislators to make changes,” Richert says.

Munroe Falls lost a home rule case in the state appeals court just last week; the city is appealing.

Related WKSU Stories

Could Youngstown ban fracking even if it wanted to?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Youngstown anti-fracking amendment will go to voters
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Youngstown fracking water spill will take another week of cleanup
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A bipartisan bill would toughen Ohio's fracking pollution penalties
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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