The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Summit County on whether local governments have any say in gas-oil drilling.
The closely watched case involves the city of Munroe Falls and Ravenna-based Beck Energy Corp.
The key question is whether oil and gas well drillers must follow city ordinances or whether state control takes precedence over local home rule.
Beck Energy got a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to drill on private property off Munroe Falls Avenue in early 2011.
When the drilling began, the city issued a stop-work order and filed a lawsuit. The city said Beck’s activities were illegal because the company did not comply with ordinances requiring Beck to obtain a city drilling permit, pay an application fee, get a zoning certificate and right-of-way construction permits, and post a performance bond.
The state sided with Beck, which had refused to apply for the permits. ODNR said it had given the company permission to drill a gas well and that was all the documentation needed.
In 2011, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands ruled Beck Energy Corp. needed to follow city rules required of all developers, which included paying application fees and acquiring a performance bond.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Rowlands’ decision in February.
The appeals court stopped the city from enforcing parts of its permit process. The city can enforce its rules only on excavation and rights-of-way, the appeals court said.
The Ohio Legislature in 2004 took local control on drilling away from local communities and gave sole authority to ODNR.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.