News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Levin Furniture

Knight Foundation

The Holden Arboretum


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Ohio Supreme Court justices join the great debate about drilling
Munroe Falls, the state and drilling interests argue who should have a say in where drilling rigs can dig in
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and oil and gas drillers say the state alone should regulate where they put their wells.
Courtesy of TIM RUDELL
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The courtroom was packed. Nearly twice as much time was allotted. And the Ohio Supreme Court grilled attorneys on all sides in a drilling case that began in Summit County and has environmentalists, communities and corporations nationwide watching closely. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on today’s arguments.

LISTEN: The great debate over drilling in Ohio and who has a say

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:43)


LISTEN: Short version of Supreme Court and drilling debate

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:07)


The high court is deciding two key points in the case of City of Munroe Falls vs. Beck Energy. Both have to do with constitutionally protected home rule.

The first is whether zoning laws can coexist with state law on oil and gas drilling. The second is whether drillers can be required to provide cities with information so they can protect residents.

Beck Energy – and the state – say ‘no’ on both points. They maintain that state law gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources domain over oil and gas drilling -- anywhere in the state.

Peter Glenn-Applegate laid out the state’s case to a skeptical Justice Paul Pfeifer, as in this exchange:

     “Your honor we think local zoning ordinances trying to restrict oil and gas drilling to particular zones would conflict with the state law.

     “So the position of the state of Ohio through the attorney general is local zoning has no place in the regulation of oil and gas drilling in this state?”

   “Yes, your honor, and if I could I’d like to make two brief points on that.”

The first point is that state law gives ODNR’s division of oil and gas “sole and exclusive authority to regulate location.” The second is that the law requires the state to be careful when it allows drilling in residential areas.

Trust in ODNR?
Pfeifer had reservations.

     “We (citizens) should just trust the good graces of, … just rely on: There are going to be good people at Natural Resources, not to worry?

     “ODNR is absolutely committed to the health and safety of its residents and so it’s not like…

     “I believe it’s the only department that we’ve held in contempt in my tenure here.”

Glenn-Applegate noted that was another ODNR division and said this one is being very careful.

He acknowledged the Munroe Falls drilling would be in a residential area, but noted it is separated by a railroad track and river, and well away from other properties.

What about Shaker Heights?
That’s when Justice William O’Neill jumped in.

     “Let’s talk about Shaker Heights, Ohio, where people have a quarter of an acre. By this statute, as near as I can tell, if ODNR says we’re going to start drilling in a residential neighborhood of Shaker Heights, the municipality of Shaker Heights has nothing to say about that. Is that your position?”

     “Yes your honor as a legal matter, but as a practical matter it would be unlikely for a well to go in there...”

     “We’re in the Supreme Court of Ohio. I don’t care about practical matters. As a legal matter, you’re saying that this statue would permit a driller to go into Shaker Heights and if they convinced ODNR there was money in it for everybody, it would be full speed ahead.”

     “I’m not sure it would be full speed ahead. There would still be several requirements the driller would need to satisfy.”

That would include setbacks and fencing. And in a case of a 4,000-foot well like this one, it would require getting property owners who together control at least 20 acres to say ‘OK.’”

Munroe Falls has its own skeptics
Munroe Falls attorney Thomas Houlihan ran into his own challenges from the justices. Houlihan got off to a rocky start with Justice Terrence O’Donnell.

     “Your argument is that the General Assembly has mandated that there be a local determination of sites, but the Department of Natural Resources has taken it upon itself to determine the location of the wells. Is that right? I’m trying to understand your argument. Is that your argument?

     “No your honor, my argument is this: If a driller wants to drill in a particular location, they have two things to do. They have to go to the ODNR and get approval from the ODNR for that site location and it must be done in compliance with local zoning.”

    “And that’s by a state statute that says that has to be done that way?”

     “No, the state statute doesn’t say anything about local zoning. The home rule amendment gives the power to cities to regulate local zoning.”

Houlihan argued other Supreme Court decisions back that up.

Defining exclusive and location
Justice O’Neill wasn’t giving Houlihan a pass either, even after he cited a case in which drilling was allowed in a neighborhood in his home base of Geauga County and then blew up the property. He kept going back to the wording of the state law. Houlihan argued back.

     “I would disagree with your assessment that the oil and gas statute … says anything about preempting local zoning. It’s silent on local zoning….

     "I’m using the two words in the English language: exclusive and location. If the state is given exclusive control over the location of a building, a structure or a well, isn’t zoning gone?

     "No your honor, because the language has to be read in context.

For its part, Beck Energy rested much of its argument on the state interest in uniform statewide regulation of an industry that is increasingly critical to Ohio – and says the state law clearly recognizes that.

Beck’s argument was joined by a long list of oil and gas interests. Munroe Falls has the backing of other cities, including Broadview Heights and Euclid and local businesses ranging from Zen Small Business Solutions to Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Video of Cleveland police shooting a 12-year-old is critical to the investigation
While I think this is a very unfortunate, the fact is that police are trained to aim for the large mass of a human to stop them. If they aimed for the leg it w...

Wayne County teacher says he was fired for criticizing dairy
This is bull crap Smithville Schools have changed ever since the new school I'm so ashamed at the district I wish I could pick my house up and move it to anothe...

White Castle is closing its five Northeast Ohio restaurants
you should open a white castle in logan ohio.i'm pretty sure you disappointed,thank you...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University