Ohio Supreme Court opinion limits city's influence on oil and gas drillers

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Cities may no longer be able to hide behind the home rule amendment to enforce city specific oil and gas drilling ordinances, says Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued its opinion on February 17, 2015, holding that the City of Munroe Falls “may not enforce its own permitting scheme atop the state system.” Beck Energy Corporation lawfully obtained a permit from the ODNR to drill an oil and gas well within the city of Munroe Falls, Ohio. Soon after Beck Energy began drilling, the city issued a stop work order and sought injunctive relief from the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. The city claimed that Beck Energy violated city ordinances, which, if violated, carried fines and potential imprisonment.

Beck Energy opposed the city’s request for injunctive relief, stating that the City’s ordinances conflicted with the state-wide regulatory program promulgated under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1509. The trial court disagreed, granting the City’s request for injunctive relief, but the Court of appeals reversed and today the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals.

Under this ruling, cities may not institute ordinances that “discriminate against, unfairly impede, or obstruct oil and gas activities and production operations that the state has permitted under R.C. Chapter 1509.” While the Court limited its ruling to the five municipal ordinances at issue in the lawsuit, it is likely to have wide reaching implications to other cities who seek to regulate oil and gas drilling on top of the already established state permitting scheme.

Tell us, does your city have ordinances regarding oil and gas drilling? Click here to read the Ohio Supreme Court’s Opinion.

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