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Friday, August 23, 2013

Niles City Council Approves Oil & Gas Industry Ban; Athens Board of Elections Blocks Similar Ban From Ballot

From Energy in Depth:
Last night the Niles City Council voted to adopt a community “bill of rights” in order to block shale development from their town.  The vote was taken after a single reading without business or industry comment, or apparently any education on the issue at all.  Interestingly, there is not even a Utica Shale well being proposed in Niles, but rather an injection well.
Instead of taking the time to vet the community “bill of rights,” learn more about the industry or even know if what they passed was legal, the city council took it upon themselves to pass the ordinance anyways.  It must be stressed: this ordinance is merely ceremonial and has no actual legal authority.
With the passage of HB 278 in 2005, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) retains sole and exclusive authority over regulating the oil and natural gas industry in Ohio.  The reasoning behind the passage of HB 278 is that permitting and regulating of oil and gas activities should be unified.
As an example of why this is important, think about your state driver’s license. Does it make more sense to have one uniform set of requirements by which each driver must abide in the state, or should each county (or even each city and town) be required to issue its own permits and impose its own restrictions? Perhaps a better question is: How many licenses would you have to retain (and pay for!) just to drive across the state?
ODNR also employs over 100 oil and gas specialists to permit, regulate and enforce rules covering the industry.  These include hydrologists, hydrogeologists, geologists, environmental experts, engineers, and many other professionals.  In other words, people who rely on science, not activist hyperbole (on either side, for that matter).  In addition to having experts on staff, ODNR retains the full backing from the Attorney General if they would need to pursue action against violators. Niles has neither the authority nor the wherewithal to bring the AG into a case.
While the ordinance passed does not have any authority over the oil and gas industry, an activist-written (and deliberately vague) community “bill of rights” always provides a bevy of unintended consequences.  Heaven forbid a trucking company wants to haul water for an oil and gas company, because the Niles council members just told every such company that they aren’t welcome in their town.
You can read that whole article here.

And from The Athens News comes this update on the situation in Athens:
Members of the Athens County Board of Elections so far have declined to explain their decision to block an anti-fracking group's ballot initiative that was intended to go to Athens city voters this November. 
Three board members voted unanimously Thursday morning to sustain an objection to a citizens' ballot initiative that would have banned deep-shale oil and gas drilling and waste-disposal activities in the city, as well as expressing an intention to penalize fracking polluters upriver from Athens. The measure has been pushed by the Bill of Rights Committee, an anti-fracking group composed of city and non-city residents. 
The objection was filed by a separate group of Athens residents, who laid out several reasons for why the fracking ban shouldn't appear on the Athens ballot. 
Board member Kate McGuckin recused herself from the vote, citing a conflict of interest. Members Helen Walker, Ken Ryan and Aundrea Carpenter-Colvin all voted in favor of sustaining the objection. 
Following the vote, Board of Election members and Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn retired to judge's chambers in the county Courthouse.
Read that article in its entirety by clicking here. 

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