Tonight, voters in the City of Youngstown soundly rejected an ill-advised “Community Bill of Rights” charter amendment that threatened the city from regaining its status as the economic powerhouse it once was. The final vote tally shows the charter amendment was handily defeated, by over ten points.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and Frack Free Mahoning have now put this measure on the ballot six consecutive times – and taxpayers have had to foot the bill. In fact, the City of Youngstown taxpayers, prior to this most recent election, have already spent $80,000 just to put the measure of the ballot. Given that it will cost the city at least another $15,000 (and likely a lot more due to voter turnout of a presidential year) means that the City of Youngstown taxpayers have spent $95,000 minimum rejecting the so-called Community Bill of Rights.
Thankfully after a thorough review of the disastrous “rights of nature” language incorporated in the ballot measure, Youngstown voters saw this effort for what it truly is—an attempt to stifle economic development in the city, which would be entirely unenforceable. For this reason, many stakeholders from local chambers of commerce to local union organizations rallied to defeat the measure.
Ohio Vote an Indicator of “Unpopular” Keep It in the Ground Movement
It’s certainly fair to say that the people of Youngstown have grown weary of the onslaught of abuse they have received from CELDF. Even in a hotly contested presidential year, this anti-fracking measure was strongly opposed by both Republicans and Democrats.
A case can certainly be made that what’s happening in Youngstown is a microcosm of how voters feel nationwide, as the rhetoric and increasing levels of civil disobedience found among the environmental extremists has quickly become “not completely popular” among both parties.
Case-in-point would be the Senate race in Ohio where incumbent U.S. Senator Rob Portman handily beat U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Strickland, a candidate largely backed by anti-fracking money from California billionaire Tom Steyer.
Remember that early on in that race, ban-fracking environmental groups tried to make the case that “this Senate race shows how climate action is gaining support in the Midwest.” Then, just weeks before the election, leading national anti-fossil fuel activists descended on Ohio for the “After Fossil Fuels: The Next Economy” conference in an apparent attempt to revive their failed campaigns to ban fracking in the state.
As the election results have shown time and time again, when it comes to homegrown natural gas development in the Buckeye State, fracking is an issue that has Democrats, Republicans, unions, business, and an overwhelming number of Ohioans saying, “We’re not standing on a natural resource, we’re standing on jobs.”
There’s simply no question that over the past five years shale development in Ohio has transformed the state’s economy. Shale has driven down the state’s unemployment rate; boosted local and state tax revenues and gross domestic product; helped keep the cost of utilities low; and has contributed to millions spent on road and bridges, thanks to billions of investment that has poured into the Buckeye State.
So it should come as no surprise that more than 83 percent of anti-fracking ballot measures have failed or been ruled invalid in Ohio; candidates who have run anti-fracking campaigns have lost; and both Republican and Democrat elected officials have stood up to embrace the overwhelming benefits of natural gas development.