The Athens Messenger,
September 11, 2017-
As reported in The Messenger (“Groups weigh in on Athens County charter dispute” 9/7/17), several state-level organizations have submitted amicus curiae (“friends of the court”) briefs to the Ohio Supreme Court supporting the Athens County Board of Elections’ decision to refuse to certify the proposed County Charter initiative to the ballot for the November 7 election. The list of organizations contains notorious “friends of the oil and gas industry” whose legal arguments all boil down to the claim that state laws pre-empt local laws, and most importantly in this case, state laws can pre-empt even the attempt to charter a county when its provisions conflict with state law.
This is an important issue for them because it is much easier and more efficient for them to wield their influence at the state level, rather than having to deal separately with multiple counties and municipalities. The state law in question here is HB 278 (2004) which gives sole discretion to the Ohio Division of Natural Resources to site injection wells for dumping toxic and often radioactive fracking wastes anywhere in the state, without the need to obtain permission from (or even inform) local elected officials, and without public hearings to discuss impacts on citizens’ health and safety.