Ohio Court orders fracing ban vote back on Youngstown ballot

The Ohio Supreme Court has cleared the way for Youngstown voters to vote again on a fracturing ban in November even though such an amendment, if approved, could be deemed unconstitutional by courts later.

Youngstown voters already have repeatedly rejected a local fracturing ban, twice in 2014 and twice in 2013.

The state’s high court said local election officials lack authority “to sit as arbiters of the legality or constitutionality” of a ballot measure.

The ruling came on a motion filed by the city of Youngstown to order the Mahoning County Board of Elections to put the amendment issue on the Nov. 3 ballot. The case was about getting amendments on the ballot and was not a ruling about fracturing itself.

The Ohio Supreme Court in February ruled in another case that only the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has authority over oil and gas drilling in the state (OGJ Online, Feb. 17, 2015).

That ruling against a municipality came in a case involving the city of Munroe Falls, a suburb of Akron. The state’s high court said Munroe Falls city officials could not stop Beck Energy Corp. of Ravenna, Ohio, from drilling a vertical gas well in sandstone.

Ohio Oil & Gas Association spokesman Mike Chadsey said in a Sept. 22 blog post referring to the Youngstown case that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Affiliated Trades of Ohio along with 17 other labor unions filed briefs to oppose the charter amendment.

“These groups represent thousands of hard-working, land-owning, bipartisan citizens in Ohio who all stood together to say enough is enough,” Chadsey said.

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