Anti-fracking activists want their day in court with officials from Ohio’s state government. The groups have filed a civil suit against the Ohio Secretary of State and the board of elections claiming that several of their First Amendment rights have been violated.
The suit was brought filed in regards to petitions that several environmental groups created leading up to the 2018 state elections. The groups state that they have received the appropriate amount of signatures for their initiates to be added to the ballot, but were blocked by the state. The petitions sought to make decisions such as a complete ban on natural gas and oil fracking up to the citizens of Ohio.
The plaintiffs argue that pure political bias state that the Secretary of State and the board of elections “plac[ed] unlawful blockades, insurmountable hurdles, and irrational procedures between the people of Ohio and their exercise and enjoyment of direct democracy”. Eastern Ohio is ripe with natural gas and oil, as it sits atop both the Marcellus and Utica shale basins, both figurative ‘goldmines’ of resources.
The case will be reviewed by the United States District Court of Northern Ohio. The contentious relationship between environmental activist groups and the oil and gas industry have led to federal level courtrooms numerous times. The decisions of these cases can have national consequences, leading to new interpretations of the law, and new regulations.