Monday, August 17, 2015

Ohio secretary of state tells counties they can't put anti-fracking measures on November ballots

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told the election boards in Athens, Fulton and Medina counties that only the state has the authority to regulate oil and gas activity, putting an end to attempts by the counties "to have questions on their ballots this November asking residents whether to amend their county charters to ban fracking inside their borders," Laura Arenschield reports for The Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in February that localities can't block hydraulic fracturing.

Husted's decision didn't sit well with anti-fracking activists, Arenschield writes. Tish O’Dell, a Broadview Heights resident and organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, told Arenschield, “If one secretary of state, who is obviously representing the best interests of the oil and gas industry, can keep the people’s attempt to alter and reform their government off the ballot, then exactly how are people ever supposed to alter their government?”

Charter amendments "have become a tool for groups worried about fracking’s environmental or health repercussions to keep oil and gas activity out of their localities," Arenschield writes. "Two oil and gas companies sued Broadview Heights over the bill of rights that passed there in 2012, and in March, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge ruled that only the state Department of Natural Resources can say where oil and gas wells can go." (Read more)

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