18 February 2015, News Wires – Ohio’s Supreme Court has ruled that certain local zoning laws banning hydraulic fracturing do not supersede the US state’s authority to regulate oil and gas drilling.
The 4-3 decision, which could limit the authority of municipalities to block oil and gas development within their borders, is based on a 2004 state law that gives Ohio “sole and exclusive authority” to regulate the location of wells, according to an Associated Press report.
The case in questions stems from a dispute between the town of Munroe Falls and Beck Energy. In 2011, Beck received a permit from the state to drill a well, but was sued by the city, which said the well did not comply with a local ordinance.
The court found that state laws trump local efforts to regulate drilling activity. The ruling could have broader implications as local governments in states like California and Texas have made rules outlawing fracking within city and county limits.
The Ohio Oil & Gas Association praised the ruling, saying it “affirmed that municipalities are prohibited from instituting rules and regulations that would discriminate against, unfairly impede or obstruct oil and gas activities that the state has permitted”.
“We strongly believe that oil and gas development is a matter of statewide interest and should be managed by professionals with the expertise to adequately regulate and oversee the industry,” the industry group said in a statement.