Yellow Springs Looks to Become First Ohio Town to Ignore State Law and Ban Fracking
From the Yellow Springs News:
Yellow Springs, though far from the epicenter of natural gas fracking in Ohio, could nevertheless become the first town in the state to ban all oil and gas drilling and waste wells within its municipal limits through passage of what is described as rights-based legislation.
Organizers with the local group Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and Education, or GODAE, will propose the pioneering legislation at Village Council’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 6. The proposed ordinance would ban the siting of oil and gas extraction wells or the placement of injection wells within the Village on the claim that such wells would violate the civil rights of local residents and threaten their health and safety.
“If [the Village] doesn’t have this, and drilling does occur, the cost and the loss of our water supply would be a disaster,” said Vickie Hennessy of GODAE.
However, such a local ordinance may not be enforceable and could face a court challenge since the local legislation would be preempted by state law, according to Village Solicitor John Chambers.
“If the Village tried to enforce it, they could be taken to court by anyone who wants to drill,” Chambers said last month.
Yellow Springs would be the first town in Ohio to pass a rights-based ordinance banning drilling, and would join 12 other communities in Pennsylvania and New York in approving such legislation, according to Eric Belcastro of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based public interest law firm that helped GODAE draft the ordinance. None of the legislation has yet been enforced, nor has it been challenged in court, Belcastro said.
Until recently, Ohio municipalities had the right to control where — and whether — oil and gas wells could be drilled in their communities through zoning measures and outright bans. But with the passing of Ohio House Bill 278 in 2004, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management became the sole authority over oil and gas wells, and municipalities and townships can do little to keep out drilling.