The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a local ordinance couldn’t block a fracking company from drilling, affirming priority of state law. Yet observers say the decision leaves room for a challenge based on civil rights.
The court ruled on Tuesday in a split 4-3 decision that a Munroe Falls ordinance that banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the town did not trump state permitting power. Beck Energy had sought to drill on residential property in the town with permission from the owner and with a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources.
Writing the lead majority opinion in the Munroe Falls v. Beck Energy case, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French wrote that municipal home rule does not allow a locality “to discriminate against, unfairly impede, or obstruct oil and gas activities and operations that the state has permitted under” a 2004 state law that vested regulation of “all aspects,” including permitting, of oil and gas drilling to an agency within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.