Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ohio Supreme Court: Localities can't block fracking

UPDATE, Feb. 24: The Ohio oil-and-gas industry gave about $8,000 in campaign funds "to the justice who wrote the pro-industry ruling and $7,200 for another who concurred," the Dispatch reports.

Local governments in Ohio can't ban horizontal hydraulic fracturing because the state has "exclusive authority" over oil and gas production, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 this week. However, the court left open the question of whether localities can control the location of wells.

"As fracking has expanded and encountered spills and fires, several Ohio communities have enacted laws to control drilling. Bans have been passed in Athens, Broadview Heights, Oberlin, Yellow Springs and Mansfield," Randy Ludlow wrotes for The Columbus Dispatch.

Athens City Council President Christine Knisely told Ludlow, “I thought we had reasonable grounds. We’re disappointed with the decision because we had taken a stand. We’re very much concerned about protecting our water supply.” (Read more)

Athens voters passed the ordinance by referendum in November, with 79 percent supporting it. "At this time it doesn't seem likely that oil and gas companies will seek to conduct drilling activities within the city of Athens," David DeWitt writes for The Athens News, but another DeWitt story reports that surrounding Athens County already gets more out-of-state fracking waste than any other Ohio county, and that a third waste-injection well could make it tops, period.

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