Energy Company Argues State Law Supersedes Local Drilling Rules

Pro- and anti-drilling forces believe the case could set a national legal precedent on local laws restricting drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing.(Photo: Flickr / SalFalko)
Pro- and anti-drilling forces believe the case could set a national legal precedent on local laws restricting drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing.(Photo: Flickr / SalFalko)

Arguments have wrapped up and Ohio Supreme Court justices are now weighing the details in a case over whether local authorities have the authority to limit oil and gas drilling.

Tom Houlihan argued before the court Wednesday morning on behalf of Munroe Falls, the Northeast Ohio city that contends Beck Energy Corporation stayed within state law, but broke 11 local laws on road use, permitting, and drilling.

“When there is legislation and local ordinance on the same subject matter, this court has held that the state permitting and local zoning can exist in parallel,” Houlihan said, trying to make the case for justices to uphold Munroe Falls’ ordinances.

But attorneys for the energy company made a case of their own.

“The remedy that the municipalities have is a political remedy to the legislature,” said John Keller, an attorney representing Beck Energy, which argues that state law should supersede local law.

Pro- and anti-drilling forces believe the case could set a national legal precedent on local laws restricting drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing. Beck’s well was traditionally drilled, not fracked.

The Supreme Court has not given a timeline for its decision.

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