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Friday, September 11, 2015

New Court Ruling Could Create Opening for Local Control on Oil and Gas in Ohio

From Crain's Cleveland Business:
It’s old news that the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission revoked Cutter Oil’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources-issued mandatory pooling order in December 2014. The new news is that on August 27, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas upheld the commission’s decision to void the order. 
The order, had it stood, would have allowed Cutter Oil to include portions of North Royalton city streets in a drilling unit, despite North Royalton’s objections on grounds that Cutter Oil has a poor safety record with its existing wells in North Royalton. 
On March 23, the chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management — the agency that issued the order — appealed the commission’s decision to void it to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. ODNR wanted the court to overturn the commission’s decision and reinstate the mandatory pooling order. 
By upholding the commission’s voiding of the order, the Franklin County court has given hope to local jurisdictions that would like a voice in drilling decisions that effect health, safety and welfare within their borders — things traditionally subject to Ohio’s Home Rule controls.
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The battle for local control over oil and gas development has been consistently going the way of drillers in Ohio.  Will this ruling open up the possibility of communities holding more sway over permitting decisions?  As with everything else, we'll have to wait and see.

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