Simon Davis-Cohen

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Simon Davis-Cohen is editor of the Ear to the Ground newsletter, an exclusive “civic intelligence” service that mines local newspapers and state legislatures from across the country.

Fossil Fuel Dollars Flow into Local Elections Threatening Development in the West

A child holds a hand-drawn sign protesting fracking near his school in Colorado

This election season, cities in Colorado and Washington are proving to be battlegrounds for community groups pushing to locally restrict oil, gas, and coal development. And in both places, the fossil fuel industry has been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into making sure that doesn’t happen.

Ohio Court Overturns Law Preventing Cities From Voting on Anti-Fracking Measures

Building home to the Ohio Supreme Court

In a slight break with previous state policies that have encouraged fracking activity and new pipelines, the Ohio Supreme Court recently struck down a controversial provision restricting citizen efforts to vote locally on these and other issues through the ballot initiative process.

Fossil Fuel Misinformation Helps Quash Community Effort to Ban Fracking in Youngstown, Ohio

Sign reading 'Don't frack Ohio - Stop injection wells'

For the first time since 2013, a group of activists in Youngstown, Ohio, has been told it cannot place an anti-fracking initiative on local ballots, due in part to a misinformation campaign from the fossil fuel industry.

On October 6, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that two proposed ballot initiatives — one to outlaw fracking and fracking waste injections and another to regulate political campaign contributions within city limits — would not be up for a vote this November. In previous years, voters weighed in on similar initiatives, which were ultimately defeated.

Ohio Communities Face 'Voter Suppression' in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

scrabble tiles spelling out 'vote'

Three years in a row, communities in Ohio have attempted to vote on initiatives that would grant them greater say over oil and gas development in their jurisdictions, but over and over again, appointed officials, some with direct ties to the fossil fuel industry, have put up roadblocks preventing these initiatives from reaching the ballot.

We’re losing our ability to legislate and be a check and balance on the government,” Tish O’Dell of the Ohio Community Rights Network told DeSmog on September 15.

Jordan Cove LNG Backers Spend Huge Money to Sway Tiny Oregon County Election

No LNG signs, opposing Jordan Cove LNG project

Two weeks ahead of an Oregon county special election, backers of the multi-billion dollar Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project are spending an additional $236,500 to prevent that vote from halting the proposed fossil fuel project.

That’s on top of the $359,000 the LNG project’s proponents had previously spent in an attempt to defeat the ballot measure, 6-162, in Coos County, Oregon, which reportedly has roughly 41,000 registered voters. 

Oregon County Faces Gas Industry Funding, Lobbyists in Battle to Halt Jordan Cove LNG Project

Rally against Jordan Cove LNG in Oregon in 2016

Scattered throughout Coos County, situated on Oregon’s southern coast, are signs reading “Save Coos Jobs, Vote No on County Measure 6-162.” The signs were put there by Save Coos Jobs, a political action committee (PAC) with more than $358,500 in funding from Canadian-based energy company Veresen’s Jordan Cove Energy Project and other natural gas interests. 

Measure 6-162 will go to vote in a May 16 special election. If passed, it would block what could become Oregon’s top greenhouse gas emitter: Canadian energy company Veresen’s proposed multi-billion dollar Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility and its associated 232 mile Pacific Connector gas pipeline.

Ohio Residents Clash With State and County Government in Fight to Ban Fracking via the Ballot

Protesters march down an Ohio street carrying anti-fracking signs.

For years, local Ohioans have been told by courts and elected officials that they have no control over fracking — “it is a matter of state law.”

However, groups of determined residents are refusing to accept this argument, taking steps to establish local democratic control over what they see as vital societal questions of health, safety, and planetary survival. But not without resistance from their own governments.