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January 02, 2014

OHIO SUPREME COURT SCHEDULES ORAL ARGUMENT IN LOCAL PREEMPTION CASE

The issue of local control over the oil and gas industry continues to be in the forefront.  Just weeks after Pennsylvania’s highest court gave municipalities more authority to enforce local zoning ordinances and struck the portions of Act 13 that prohibited any regulation or zoning of oil and gas operations, the Ohio Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in a case that challenges a controversial law passed in 2004 that gave the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority to permit and regulate oil and gas drilling.

Oral argument has been scheduled for February 26 in the case of State of Ohio ex rel. Jack Morrison, Jr., Law Director City of Munroe Falls, Ohio et al. v. Beck Energy Corp et al., No. 2013-0465. 

The case commenced in 2011 in Summit County after the City of Munroe Falls filed a complaint against Beck Energy, alleging that the company had failed to file for local drilling permits and did not comply with certain zoning and right-of-way ordinances prior to commencement of operations.  And while the trial court ruled in favor of the City, on appeal to the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Akron, the lower court’s ruling was overturned.

Industry and natural gas opponents alike will be anxiously awaiting the Court’s ultimate decision in Beck Energy regarding whether Ohio’s statutory preemption stands.  The timing is also interesting in that it is likely to coincide with similar cases pending in New York.

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