Debate Held on Fracking Amendment

A debate took place Thursday on Issue 1 in Youngstown, which is the Community Bill of Rights that will be on the ballot in a few weeks.

Many are calling it the fracking bill, saying if it passes, fracking will be banned within the city limits. But others say the bill would eliminate all regulations, and might not even be enforceable.

“Now they can vote to protect their families drinking water, their breathable air, and their land that they live on,” said Lynn Anderson, a member of Frack Free Mahoning Valley.

Approximately 40 people came out to the Faith Community Convenant Church ready to hear from both sides of the fracking debate: Frack Free Ohio and the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment.

But according to an experienced oil and gas attorney, the bill is so much more than banning hydraulic fracturing.

“We would be left in the city of Coungstown with no regulations. This law, if passed, in terms of environmental concerns, would make us much worse off than we are now,” said Alan Wenger of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell.

Wenger said that people here are scared when it comes to drilling, after two recent instances : The New Year’s Eve earthquake of 2011 and the recent dumping of brine into the Mahoning River, both of which resulted in legal action.

“I see some of the proponents say that it’s a completely unregulated industry which is just laughable. It”s a hugely regulated industry,” Wenger said.

Anderson disagreed.

“It’s not a level playing field. The state has introduced way too many preemptive laws in favor of the oil and gas industry,” she said.

Even if the law were to pass, some local elected officials aren’t sure it would be valid.

“The reality is, even our own law director has said that this may not be a legal law that can be enforced. I just find it very hard to believe that we can just tell people what they can’t do with their property,” said 7th Ward Councilman John Swierz.

Both sides plan to continue educating the public until the May 7 election.

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