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Ohio Town Votes Against Fracking Ban For Third Time in a Year

Fracking
Ohio Town Votes Against Fracking Ban For Third Time in a Year

Some things are always worth fighting for, especially clean air and water.

Those fights can be tough, too, particularly when your own city and its residents refuse to let go of a profitable but dangerous practice like fracking. For the third time in the past year, voters in Youngstown, OH voted against a fracking ban.

Voters there struck down the ban by 8.5 percentage points, according to results from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

Fracking opposers in Youngstown, OH aren't done fighting yet, despite their fracking ban being voted down for the third time in a year. Photo credit: Ohio Fracktion

The members of the Community Bill of Rights Committee that led the fight were disappointed, but not beaten down. They're not sure if the fourth time will be a charm, but the members will make a future return to the ballot.

"We'll put it on again," committee member Susie Beiersdorfer told the Youngstown Vindicator. "It doesn’t matter how many times we have to fight for our inalienable rights to clean water and clean air.”

The committee could be enthused by gradual improvements each time its measure hits the ballot. The ban lost by 13.7 percent in May 2013 and by 9.7 percentage points in November.

“This is not going to stop,” Lynn Anderson, another committee member, said. “It will keep going until it’s passed. It will keep going. This is not over.”

Predictably, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association has no interest in dragging this out any further.

“It is time to move past this debate and get back to the business at hand, which is making sure the hardworking folks in Youngstown continue to have economic opportunities being brought forward by shale development,” Ohio Oil and Gas Association spokesman Mike Chadsey said. "They sure are wasting a lot of people’s time and money.”

John A. McNally, the city's mayor, viewed the ban purely as a "job killer," as opposed to a way to clean up his town's environment. He added that he didn't think the ban would have been enforceable any way because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources controls fracking in the state.

Campaign also played a role in the loss. The Vindicator found that the local Plumbers and Pipefitters union spent nearly $35,000 more than the committee pushing for a fracking ban, as of April 16.

Fracking bans have been much more successful on the West Coast. Beverly Hills became the first city in its state to pass an official ban, while Los Angeles approved a fracking moratorium a couple months earlier.

A ban was also passed this year in Fort Collins, CO.

Just a month ago, a coalition of local, statewide and national groups against fracking gathered at the Ohio Statehouse for “Don’t Waste Ohio” Legislator Accountability Day.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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