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State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp.

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20036
Nos. 2015-Ohio-485, (Ohio, 02/17/2015)

The Ohio Supreme Court held that a city may not restrict oil and gas drilling within its borders. The city sought to enforce five local ordinances limiting drilling within its borders after an energy company had already obtained the necessary state permits. The ordinances, however, conflict with state law. Ohio Rev. Code Ch. 1509 regulates oil and gas wells and production operations in Ohio. While it preserves certain powers for local governments, it gives the state government "sole and exclusive authority" to regulate the permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations. Here, the ordinances prohibit exactly what state law allows. In addition, the Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution does not grant the city the power to enforce its own permitting scheme atop the state system. Although the city raises an interesting policy question with regard to drilling, it is one for the elected representatives in the General Assembly to decide, not the judiciary.