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New Report Finds Appalachian Basin Is Most Profitable Place in U.S. to Build Petrochemical Plant

Posted By Guest Blog: Energy In Depth Appalachian Basin, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Appalachian Basin is now the most profitable place in the United States to build a petrochemical plant, according to new research from IHS Markit. And this isn’t just by a small margin – the report finds that Appalachia’s Ohio River Valley has four times the net present value compared to other regions of the country.


Source: IHS Markit

The IHS Markit report adds to a growing body of research on the important role the Appalachian Basin will play in the future of the petrochemical industry. For instance, the American Chemistry Council’s recent report entitled “The Potential Economic Benefits of an Appalachian Petrochemical Industry” found the region could be the “second center of U.S. petrochemical and plastic resin manufacturing, similar to the Gulf Coast” and as a result could see up to 100,000 permanent new jobs by 2025.

 

Encouraging investment and making this a reality is something the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is “working on actively.” DOE Sec. Rick Perry recently told lawmakers that he plans to transition Appalachia into a petrochemical refining center, and he testified before Congress that investment in the region is a priority for national security, explaining,

 

“To develop [the Gulf’s petrochemical industry] in another region of this country, the Appalachian, makes sense because you’re sitting on top of Marcellus and Utica, which are prolific gas fields, and helping transition the workers who are either out of work or not working in jobs that are satisfactory from their perspective into higher-paying refining and petrochemical type jobs. That is a something we’re working on actively today at DOE.”

Shale Crescent USA, an economic development initiative to encourage business growth in the Ohio River Valley, commissioned this new report, which makes the business case for investing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Why is the Appalachian Basin so appealing?

For starters, it is located in close proximity to a prolific natural gas supply. Pennsylvania alone produced 5.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas from shale in 2017 – more than China and India’s combined total natural gas production – and 40 percent of America’s total natural gas production will come from the Appalachian Basin by 2030, according to the report. But that’s not the only advantage. As the report explains,

“For the first time in history, companies can now position themselves directly within the greatest region of supply as well as the greatest area of demand.”

Shale Crescent USA spokesman Jerry James further explained the advantages in the report’s press release,

“The Shale Crescent USA region boasts a number of major advantages, including access to some of the lowest natural gas prices in the developed world from the abundant Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. When taken with the close proximity to more than two-thirds of the domestic market for polyethylene consumption, it means we are the most lucrative location for a petrochemical manufacturing facility.”

U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson (OH-06) issued a press release on the new study, stating,

“There is little doubt that due to this natural resource below our feet, Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, and the surrounding area, sits at the center of America’s energy renaissance. We have an abundant natural gas supply, access to water, proximity to major markets, and a ready and skilled labor force. It’s a major reason that an international petrochemical company is considering building an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County – which would be the largest construction project in Ohio history.”

And, as Congressman Johnson explained, investment in the region has already been occurring. Royal Dutch Shell recently began construction on its world-class ethane cracker facility in Pennsylvania, and it appears PTT Global Chemical will announce more concrete plans for a similar facility in Ohio in the near future. In line with the IHS Markit report, Shell explains on its website that, “Locating the facility close to both supply and markets will reduce economic and environmental transportation costs…”

A bipartisan group of elected officials from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania has also been aggressively pushing for more investment in the Appalachian region, and this week economic development groups from the tri-state area are headed to the World Petrochemical Conference to lobby for their shot at the next major petrochemical plant investment.

Shale development has brought a new hope for this region of the country, and is the key to a manufacturing renaissance taking place in the United States. With each new report it becomes clear: Shale has given the Appalachian Basin “a shot at this historical region-changing event.”

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Ohio Oil and Gas Association Names New Leadership

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Monday, March 12, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association board of trustees has elected Matthew Hammond as executive vice president. Hammond will lead OOGA’s advocacy efforts for the oil and gas industry and act as the chief executive officer of the Association and its operations.

“Matt has proven to be an effective and strong advocate for the Ohio oil and gas producers,” said Jim Aslanides, president of OOGA. “He has shown appreciation for our mission and has worked tirelessly for OOGA’s members. Matt is a talented representative of our great industry, I am privileged and honored to work with him to continue to protect and advance our membership.”

“It is an honor and a great privilege to be entrusted to lead this diverse organization,” said Hammond. “I am grateful to have the support of the leadership, our staff and my family, and I look forward to translate my vision into reality by boldly moving forward on our members’ agenda.”

Hammond has an extensive background in government affairs, working on energy policy. Prior to joining OOGA as senior vice president in January, Hammond served as principal for Vorys Advisors LLC where he worked closely with members of the state legislature, the governor’s office and state agencies, primarily focused in advising oil and gas clients. Previously Hammond was senior director of government affairs for Chesapeake Energy Corporation, where he served as a member of the OOGA’s Executive Committee and Board of Trustees.

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Twelve Legacy Members Earn Their Place in the 9th Ohio Oil and Gas Hall of Fame

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) proudly welcomed its latest distinguished class of legacy members into Ohio Oil and Gas Hall of Fame during the Annual Winter Meeting held at the Hilton Columbus at Easton. The OOGA Hall of Fame honors those who have made their own distinct contributions to the Ohio oil and gas industry and was celebrated at the induction ceremony held on March 7, with more than 200 people in attendance.

“To be so recognized by their peers and colleagues and be inducted in the Ohio Oil & Gas Hall of Fame is the zenith for these folks who have dedicated their lives and reputation to this industry. All of the inductees have joined the ranks of the true independents who have forged success in this uniquely American industry and earned the admiration and respect of all those who surround them,” said Tom Stewart, former head of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association and Hall of Fame member.  

The Hall of Fame was established in 1987 and since then 137 honored veterans of the oil and gas industry have been inducted into the hall. The induction ceremony has been held once every four years since 1994. Honorees have come from many different levels and segments of the industry. The concept of the OOGA Hall of Fame came as an idea from OOGA President Gene Brasel in 9187 as a way of honoring the industry’s veterans.

2018 Inductees include:  Jeffery J.A. Baker, Joseph W. Haas, Eugene Huck, Jerry James, William G. Kinney, Mark S. Lytle, Robert G. McVicker Jr., Jack K. Miller, Robert Moss, Daniel Pottmeyer, John B. Walker, Howard J. Wenger. To view a full list of OOGA Hall of Fame Members click here

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Ohio Oil and Gas Legend Leaving a Legacy In Muskingum County

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018

Humble Beginnings

Muskingum County will always be a special place to J.W. “Bill” Straker. He has lived in Zanesville since 1925 and the area has afforded Straker a very good living, which he is generously sharing back with the community.

Straker grew up in Zanesville where his father owned and operated a local oilfield supply business called Zanesville Tool Company, later changed to Buckeye Supply. Straker earned a degree in petroleum engineering at Ohio State University in 1943. His real interest was not in the retail supply business, so in the early 1940s during his college years, Straker approached a local oil production company called National Gas and Oil for a summer job. When National said they were not hiring, Straker then offered to work for free just for the experience. The next summer he went back and National paid him fifty cents an hour.  

Buckeye Supply was a stable business and introduced Straker to the oilfield and his father’s business approach. In 1946 Straker founded the Oxford Oil Company. In its early years Oxford found success buying wells, salvaging equipment and finding oil in the clean out of old wells which allowed the company the ability to start drilling its own wells. Straker was meticulous in his operations, forward-thinking, frugal and Oxford’s books were balanced to the penny.  

A longtime Oxford employee says there was probably nobody in the state that was more forthcoming about paying its bills than Oxford. The drillers could come in the day they finished a well and get their check. That meant a lot to the people working with Oxford and others in the industry.

Reserved in nature about his business plans and sharing any operating techniques, those close to Straker describe him as the dictionary definition of work ethic. Often sacrificing family time for the business, Straker would do whatever it took to provide for his family. He and his wife Mary Helen had four children and from a young age he instilled in them the value of hard work. It was his way of life to empower others to want to improve themselves and make it on their own. His only son John took over Oxford with that same work ethic years later. Straker served as president and general manager of Oxford until he retired in 1986.

In addition to operating Oxford, Straker remained involved with National Gas and Oil. After getting his first taste of the industry there, National and Oxford did business together regularly. When National’s president retired Straker became the president and CEO in 1973, and was elected chairman of the board in 1978, serving in that capacity until he retired in 1991.

Through decades of successful drilling operations, ultimately becoming a top driller in the state, Straker became financially successful. Straker was a man of true integrity and unwaveringly devoted to his business operations; yet he kept his accomplishments to himself.

Mighty Oaks Warrior Project

Straker has never sought fame or recognition in his business dealings, and the same is true for his charitable giving. He simply feels it is most important that the benefits of his giving go back to the community where he was able to build his success. But after celebrating his 96th birthday he is now wrapping up his largest single contribution, a gift to intended to help veterans affected by war.

In 1943 Straker had finished his petroleum engineering degree at Ohio State through an accelerated program, immediately following he entered the U.S. Army Corps as a commissioned officer in the occupation of Japan after World War II. Though he is a veteran, the guiding reason he choose a project to support veterans was the need he saw and his desire to want to help do something about it.

Over three years ago Straker discovered the California based Mighty Oaks Warrior Program when reading an article in Forbes magazine. The group’s mission is to help active duty military and veterans facing posttraumatic stress disorder. The program serves as a means of bringing together people who face similar issues and helps them focus on recovery and identifying their purpose moving forward. The program thrives on an experience-to-experience model where graduates of the program become group instructors, rooted in faith and providing an open forum not found in clinical environments. 

After sending his daughter Susan to visit the original site in California, it became clear to Straker that the Midwest was lacking this type of program and he has since focused his efforts on creating a facility capable of hosting the program in Ohio. He came up with the idea to build a site at The Wilds, a private non-profit safari park and conservation center just outside his hometown in Cumberland, Ohio. Straker has been a supporter of the Wilds from its inception and saw natural potential at this site. 

To implement the Mighty Oaks program at The Wilds, Straker is personally funding the construction of seven cabins, along with a community style lodge that will hold class and meeting rooms, a kitchen and laundry facility. The site is located on a beautiful lake, within a few minutes access to fishing, horse back riding and animal safaris, all within a purposefully isolated setting that has very limited Internet access. The combination of these factors are an advantage to the program that host groups for up to a week, the easy access to activities are key to helping attendees quickly establish rapport. The Wilds is also directly benefitting by allowing this program, with rights to rent out the site for public use when it is not occupied by Mighty Oaks.  

In September of 2017 the program held a trial run for the program on The Wild’s property while the cabins were under construction. Construction of the project was completed in December 2017. The first official group of attendees is expected in the spring of 2018.

Giving Back

In the late 1980s the notion of starting a foundation was something that Straker began considering. In 1994 the J.W. and M.H. Straker Charitable Foundation quietly became a reality. Straker and his wife created the foundation and their daughter Susan Holdren was chosen to direct it. Since then the Foundation has given numerous charitable grants to fund capital projects throughout Muskingum County in excess of two million dollars to date; with most of these the contributor has remained anonymous to the public. Straker’s ultimate view is that he made his money in Muskingum County and the area has afforded him a very good living, he feels strongly that the benefits of that money should stay in the community. 

The Straker family is encouraged to sit on the board of the charitable foundation, which all of the children do and his grandchild are also welcomed with the stipulation that they must be college graduates or over the age of 25. It has been extremely important to Straker to start the foundation and his children have encouraged it in order to help guide them in where they want their funds to be distributed. Straker’s view of his legacy is replicable to that of the Warren Buffet mantra of giving your child enough to live, but not so much that they do nothing.

In running the foundation, Holdren said there have been some surprises along the way on what her parents want to put their money into. The projects lean towards being mostly brick and mortar, with primary focus areas in education, the arts and children. There are always more projects than there is money and they have set guidelines for choosing projects. Requirements of accepting a grant from the foundation considers the narrative of what to accomplish, how it will be evaluated and reported on the following year.

The project with Mighty Oaks strays a bit from the foundation’s typical focus areas of giving, and is one that Straker has personally led. The foundation has participated in the project, but the majority of the funding has come solely from Straker himself. It is something that is dear to him and he is willing to openly talk about. This fact alone has allowed for some added publicity, in hopes of reaching more veterans. His family is proud of the legacy he is leaving personally as well as professionally and leaving a mark unlike many people are able to do; all in thanks to hard work in the oil and gas industry and smart judgment.   

Tags:  Bill Straker  drilling  Lyndsey Kleve  Lyndsey Kleven  Mighty Oaks Warrior program  ohio oil and gas association  oil and gas  The Wilds 

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OOGA 2018 Winter Meeting Preview

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Monday, February 12, 2018


We hope you are already registered to join us March 7-9 for our 71st Annual Winter Meeting. This year OOGA is taking a slightly different approach to the structure of our meeting in hopes of giving attendees choices to concentrate on the topics they’re interested in the most.

This will come in a two-pronged approach, the first is to bring with very good speakers to provide information to our members. In that vein, this year’s keynote luncheon speaker is Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox News’ morning show, Fox & Friends, as well as host of Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade and Friends.

The second component is several breakout sessions; this will look at some different issues and provide an arena to have in-depth discussions. This year’s event we are really looking to give attendees the choice of what they want to hear, to provide some additional benefit. This format is member driven with a new focus on OOGA committee-established issues. There will be a lot of committee work at the Winter Meeting, and not just limited to the people in those committees, it will be open to everyone.

To this end, the breakout sessions will feature high-level speakers providing attendees with the opportunity for direct conversation and questions. Speaking during these breakout sessions are Chief Rick Simmers (Chief, ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management), Chairman Asim Haque (Chair, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), Greg Wrightstone (Author, “Inconvenient Facts”), Lee Fuller (Independent Petroleum Association of America), David Dulak (Eureka Midstream) and others.

General session speakers during the meeting include the annual DeBrosse Report, which details Ohio oil and gas activities, Jerry James (Shale Crescent), Allen Brooks (PPHB Energy Investment Banking) and Ohio gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, amongst others.

Traditional events, such as the President’s Reception, Ohio Oil & Gas Producers Fund Reception, and networking breakfasts will provide attendees with ample opportunities to interact with others within the industry. 

Finally, prior to the official start of the event, the 9th Ohio Oil and Gas Association Hall of Fame Dinner & Ceremony will be held on the evening of March 7 to honor and induct a new 13 member class to its ranks. This event, established in 1987, is now held every four years to recognize and honor those who have made significant contributions to the industry.

To learn more about these events, including how to register go to oogawintermeeting.com. Registration on-site at the event will also be available.     

 

Join us this year for the 9th Ohio Oil and Gas Hall of Fame Honors Dinner during the Annual Winter Meeting being held at the Columbus Hilton at Easton. The event includes a reception, dinner and induction ceremony for the incoming class.

 Register online: http://hof.ooga.org/

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
6:30-8:30 PM
Columbus Hilton at Easton

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association Hall of Fame honors those who have made their own distinct contributions to the Ohio oil and gas industry. The Hall of Fame was established in 1987 and since then 125 honored veterans of our industry have been inducted into the Hall. The induction ceremony has been held once every four years since 1994.

Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes:

Jeffery J.A. Baker, Joseph Haas, Gene Huck, Jerry James, Willian Kinney, Mark Lytle, Robert McVicker Jr., Jack Miller, Bob Moss, Dan Pottmeyer, John W. Straker Jr., John B. Walker, and Howard Wenger

Hal of Fame Dinner Admission:

$125 for an individual or $200 for a couple.

Reserved table options:

$400 ruby sponsor with 2 assigned seats

$2,000 diamond sponsor with 8 seats at reserved table

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HB 430 Passes House, Ensures Predictability & Stability In Ohio's Tax System

Posted By Guest Blog: Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Monday, February 5, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018

The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 430 yesterday by a substantial, bipartisan margin (85-12). Why should you care? It’s important to your business because predictability and stability are crucial elements to a fair tax system, and HB 430 is a step towards protecting accepted practice and enforcement of Ohio’s tax laws and regulations. HB 430 deals specifically with the oil and gas industry, but similar concerns about shifting interpretation or definition changes are affecting other industries such as manufacturing processes and other commercial activities.

Over the years, changes brought about by advanced technology have created a need to adjust Ohio’s laws and accepted practices of tax enforcement. In this vein, HB 430 is an update to legislation that first defined “production equipment” for the oil and gas regulation law. Numerous changes were made in the wake of the broad emergence of horizontal hydraulic fracturing methods in Ohio. (S.B. 165 of the 128th General Assembly). Some further refinement has become necessary.

HB 430 modifies the sales and use tax exemption for property used in producing oil and natural gas and specifies that property that is approved by the Department of Natural Resources as part of a water pollution control facility qualifies for existing property and sales and use tax exemptions.

The bill modifies the existing sales and use tax exemption for property used directly in producing oil and natural gas. Existing law exempts the sale or use of tangible personal property used “directly” in the production of crude oil or natural gas. The bill redefines what constitutes the “production” of oil and gas by substituting “production operation” – for “production.”

The Ohio Chamber supports these changes that simply reaffirm what the state law has been for decades by clarifying the Ohio Revised Code, as originally intended by the Ohio General Assembly, and the Ohio Administrative Code that these direct sales are treated as nontaxable. The purpose is not to expand the scope of the current exemptions or exclusion; rather it is to aggregate and clarify them.

This action would bring a measure of clarity and certainty to the industry, which contributes to good business and continued business growth. We believe that it may also give a guideline for similar issues in other areas of law and regulation. The Ohio Chamber will continue working toward fair implementation of all taxes on behalf of our members and all Ohioans.

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OOGA and OEC Action Fund Voice Support for More Robust Oil and Gas Well Plugging Program

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund (OEC Action Fund) are both praising a bill that passed the Ohio House that would streamline the state’s idle and orphan oil and gas well program, it passed the Ohio House with unanimous support on Jan. 17.

Introduced by State Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), House Bill 225 will establish a more robust and streamlined program for plugging the state’s idle and orphan wells, which do not have identifiable owners and may date back as far as 1885.

The number of idle and orphan oil and gas wells in the state is estimated to be in the thousands and there are currently 700 wells on a waiting list to be plugged through the state’s Orphan Well Plugging Program, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and funded by severance taxes paid by Ohio’s oil and gas industry.

“We commend Rep. Andy Thompson and the co-sponsors of this bill for legislation that is in the interest of the public and Ohio’s natural environment,” said Melanie Houston, OEC’s director of climate programs. “House Bill 225 will make considerable progress in expediting ODNR’s process for plugging these abandoned wells across Ohio.”

OOGA and the OEC Action Fund mentioned several provisions of House Bill 225 that would increase the efficiency of the Orphan Well Plugging Program and provide ODNR the resources needed to address this longstanding issue to protect public health, safety and the environment. Key provisions include:

·Streamlined historical title and landowner research requirements.

·Process to allow ODNR to pay well service contractors directly, eliminating upfront, out-of-pocket costs and potential tax liabilities for landowners.

·Increased accountability by requiring ODNR to report well-plugging progress annually to the Ohio General Assembly.

·Increased program funding from 14 to 45 percent.

“This legislation establishes the framework necessary to report the wells, rank them, get them plugged, and to spend the allocated funds to prevent the problem,” said Mike Chadsey, OOGA’s director of public relations. “This is a historic opportunity for Ohio to finally eradicate the issue of idle and orphan wells.”

Following passage by the Ohio House, House Bill 225 was introduced in the Ohio Senate on Jan. 22. OOGA and the OEC Action Fund look forward to working with the Senate and the swift approval of this essential legislation. 

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Appalachia is Vital to United State’s Energy

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Whether or not you realize the importance of natural gas, it is ubiquitous. Natural gas and products made from it are below you and all around you, a form of it is most likely on you and maybe even inside of you. It is fundamental to everyday life and becoming increasingly vital to the world’s energy portfolio. Natural gas is a fossil fuel used for heating, cooking, electricity, fuel for vehicles, a chemical feedstock in making plastics, and other commercially imported organic chemicals. This naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture is found deep underground, and in the U.S. has primarily been extracted from shale rock over the past decade.  

Across the Appalachian region there are two shale formations that together are producing a lot of the U.S. natural gas. The Marcellus shale extends from New York to Kentucky, covering about 95,000 square miles. The Utica shale sits beneath the Marcellus and is below us in Ohio, spanning 60,000 total square miles between New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Innovations in drilling and hydraulic fracturing has advanced to the point where oil and gas production can be economic in these tight shale formations, allowing the region to become very prolific over the past years. According to new information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) the Appalachian region is driving growth in our country’s natural gas production. Since 2012, the average monthly natural gas production per rig for new wells in the region has increased by 10.8 million cubic feet per day. A decade ago this level of production would have been unthinkable for our area. Fast-forward to today and if Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania were hypothetically to combine as a country, it would be the third highest natural gas producing country in the world.


According to Energy In Depth, the Appalachian region produces enough natural gas in a single day to:

·      Run 82,800 televisions non-stop for a century.

·      Provide electricity for 559,245 houses for a year.

·      Take a cross-country road trip 255,000 times.

·      Travel to the moon and back 12,857 times.

EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report finds that natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica has increased by more than 14 billion cubic feet per day since 2012. To put that into perspective over the last five years, that’s an increase in production of natural gas from 7.8 Bcf/d in 2012, to producing 22.1 Bcf/d in 2016, and the third quarter of 2017 shows production at 23.8 Bcf/d in 2017. As of November 2017 more than 1,800 wells have been drilled in the Utica-Point Pleasant, and more than 11,300 wells have been drilled in the Marcellus.

There’s still more to come as the Appalachian region continues to show what its capable of bringing to the U.S. energy portfolio. It is projected that the northeast states will account for 35% of U.S. natural gas production by 2020. It will be exciting to see our industry continue to advance techniques that will improve production and bring even more economic development across our region. 

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Annual Holiday Membership Reception

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Monday, December 18, 2017

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) hosted its annual holiday membership reception on December 14, 2017 at the Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark. The event had a great turn out and it was nice to have our members coming to celebrate the holiday season with colleagues, friends, and Association staff.

Following the annual OOGA Executive Committee and Board of Directors meeting, a large representation from these groups was also present. This event is a great opportunity for groups to network, mingle, and Association members from near and far to get together to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

The OOGA thanks everyone who was able to attend the annual holiday reception and wishes all of our members a very Happy New Year! 

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What You Need to Know: CELDF’s Ohio Constitutional Amendment Petition

Posted By Jackie Stewart, Energy In Depth, Monday, December 4, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 6, 2017

After more than two dozen failures at the local level in Ohio, the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense (CELDF) recently announced plans to launch a statewide initiative petition for two Ohio constitutional amendments. The ultimate goal is to alter state law to allow local fracking bans (among other extreme objectives).  While the proposed so-called “Ohio Community Rights Amendment” and the “Initiative and Referendum Amendment for Counties and Townships” garnered 1,000 signatures and was certified by the Ohio’s Attorney General, the road to a statewide ballot measure includes passing muster with the Ohio Ballot Board and would require at least 305,591 Ohio voter signatures to qualify.  In other words, CELDF is on step two of the 28 total steps it will take implement an actual statewide citizens-initiated constitutional amendment. In addition, despite what CELDF claimed in a press release announcing the decision this week, the group has had nothing but failures in other “similar” attempts in other states (a fact most media outlets failed to note).

With that said, here are the facts of the matter (to date):

When was the petition submitted and certified? And how does that process work?

On Nov. 17, CELDF submitted two petitions for state constitutional amendment to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who certified the signatures on Nov. 27.  These were the first and second steps in a very long process that is nowhere near complete. While CELDF would have you believe their so-called ballot measure will hit the masses tomorrow, 26 steps in the process remainleading up to the July deadline, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.  Notably, more than 50 percent of efforts that clear the Ohio Attorney General’s first two steps do not make it to the ballot.

What do the petitions actually say?

The Ohio Community Rights Amendment initiative petition states as follows:

Summary

This amendment secures the right of local, community self-government for the people of Ohio by guaranteeing local authority to enact laws to protect unalienable rights and the health, safety and welfare of community members and natural ecosystems, free from state preemption or corporate interference. This right includes the power of each Ohioan to act collectively through his or her local government to alter, amend or abolish systems of law and government when they fail to protect or when they directly or indirectly violate the unalienable rights and the health, safety and welfare of community members and natural ecosystems.

Following adoption of this proposed amendment, the right of local community self-government will be exercised through the adoption of county and municipal laws either directly by the people of those communities through the initiative process or by their local elected representatives on behalf of the people of the community. Under this amendment, State laws won’t have the power or authority to preempt or overturn local laws enacted to protect the rights of community members and the local ecosystem. Claimed corporate “rights” will not be able to override the rights protected by the exercise of the right of local community self-government. Local laws enacted pursuant to this amendment will not be valid if they violate or diminish the rights of natural persons or ecosystems, nor will they be valid if they reduce established protections in law for natural persons or ecosystems.

The Initiative and Referendum Amendment for Counties and Townships initiative petition statesas follows:

Summary

This amendment establishes a right of initiative and referendum powers to residents of counties and townships, just as residents in Ohio municipalities have possessed since 1912.

 

Has a political action committee been filed for this effort?

No. Not at this time.  This is significant because any legitimate effort to actually launch a statewide campaign would include a campaign committee.

Have there been any other statewide ballot initiatives in other states where CELDF has been successful?

No.  While CELDF is aggressively trying to mislead Ohio media and the public that they have made headway “advancing” what they call “similar efforts” in other states, that’s simply not true. CELDF’s similar efforts in both New Hampshire and Colorado failed, and they only recently made attempts to implement similar initiatives in other states.

And let’s not forget they have been failing for years in Ohio at the local level.

Who’s behind this measure?

The Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is entirely behind this effort.

Who funds CELDF?

CELDF is the very definition of “big money.” Its coffers swelled from $1.6 million in 2014 to $2.5 million in 2015, and  spent almost a million dollars on lobbying and grassroots efforts, as a result of the more than $3.4 million the group has raised over the past few years. According to its latest tax filing, the organization has seen its fundraising increase by more than 73 percent since 2009. However, new reports indicate there may be millions more in dark money pouring into its coffers.

What does the language of the petitions actually mean?

The language of the petition is extremely broad, and CELDF itself said in its recent press release, “This goes beyond fossil fuel industries.” Indeed it does. And in fact, the constitutional amendment, if passed, would literally mean that a local law (on any issue) would supersede state law. In other words, local townships or cities could pass laws to prohibit certain activities that are protected by state laws, as Susan Beiersdorfer, activist and author of these amendment petitions, has admitted:

“This is a movement about saying we, the people, in the cities of Youngstown can decide what industries come in here.

That’s right: if the city decides it doesn’t like your business, you’re out of business!

Beiersdorfer’s statement is certainly consistent with CELDF’s overarching mission to ban any kind of industry it doesn’t like, as stated by CELDF founder, Thomas Linzey,

“If you are going to put all that work into a ballot initiative, why not do a ballot initiative that bans all finance companies in New York City from funding new projects that exacerbate climate change? Why not do something real…why not do something real…cause people are saying to themselves, ‘it would be illegal, it would be unlawful, it would be unconstitutional, because you are taking their property’ well..(expletive), it’s time.”

If that’s not enough, take a look at this meeting where CELDF organizer Ben Price and his colleagues explain how they’d like things to run:

Meeting attendee: “Ben was nice enough to say we’re gonna make decisions in here that the rest of the community will just have to live with.

Ben Price: “It’s how it’s done!”

Meeting attendee: “We laugh about it, but sadly it’s how it’s done.”

Conclusion

After six consecutive CELDF failures in Youngstown, one would think that voters have spoken on this issue enough.  As the Youngstown Vindicator rightfully pointed out,

“A reasonable person — with emphasis on the word reasonable— would conclude, therefore, that the outcome of the general election should be the final word on this self-serving issue. After all, the people have spoken, over and over. But the Beiersdorfers and others, who are determined to save us from ourselves, continue to believe they represent a majority of the residents of the city — despite evidence to the contrary.”

But CELDF has proven to be anything but reasonable. And it is important for Ohio voters to know that the group’s lack of rationality is surpassed only by its desire to ban fracking and other business activity essential to Ohio’s economy.

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