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Could Youngstown ban fracking even if it wanted to?
A citizen petition may be one way for City Council to find out

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M.L. Schultze
Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone was among those announcing a criminal charge against driller Ben Lupo last week.
Courtesy of GRANT ENGLE
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In The Region:
Youngstown City Council is expected this evening to put an ordinance on the May 7 ballot that would ban fracking in the city. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on a move that may turn out to be largely symbolic.
SCHULTZE: State vs. local control

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Opponents of the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking collected some 4,000 signatures to get the issue onto the May ballot. Law Director Anthony Farris says council has no choice but to pass the initiative onto the Mahoning County Board of Elections. But he also says such an initiative is unenforceable even if voters do pass it. That’s because state law leaves regulation of oil and gas drilling in Ohio largely up to the state. 

Mayor Chuck Sammarone says he’s largely neutral when it comes to fracking. He celebrates the tens of thousands of jobs that are expected to come with it. But he also protests the loss of local control.

“City law can’t supersede state law, and they have a state law saying you are allowed to drill. … But I’m trying to get it to a point where we have more input to be in involved in the inspection, the regulations, whatever we feel we have to do to eliminate the problems that are caused in our city.”

Youngstown has been the center of major problems involving the disposal of so-called frac-water, the brine and chemicals left over after shale’s been burst open to capture oil and gas.  One disposal well triggered earthquakes in the area and was ordered closed last year. And the owner of that well is now accused of dumping brine into a tributary of the Mahoning River repeatedly over the last six months.

Tonight's Youngstown City Council meeting begins at 5:30 in council chambers at 26. S. Phelps Street.
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