COLUMBUS, OH (September 6, 2013) – A group of Ohio municipalities have weighed in on behalf of home rule protections against fracking operations in a controversial Ohio Supreme Court Case pitting communities against unfettered oil and gas development. The cities of Broadview Heights, Euclid, Mansfield, and North Royalton, and the Village of Amesville, today submitted a “friends of the court” brief in a case regarding fracking permits awarded to Beck Energy in the town of Munroe Falls.
At issue in this case is the ability of localities to protect their community character by exercising their traditional land use powers over oil and gas development. The municipalities' brief explains the importance of community character quality of life and economic well-being, and asks the court to consider the grave threats to communities across the state if the state's oil and gas law, which itself contains little to no consideration of community character impacts, is allowed to pre-empt local control.
Representing the municipalities are attorneys with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Community Fracking Defense Project and a local Columbus attorney. The People's Oil & Gas Collaborative of Ohio, a grassroots organization involving people directly impacted by oil and gas development, played a key role in organizing the municipalities who joined the brief.
Following are comments from groups involved with the brief:
“Historically communities have some say over what happens within their towns,” said Kari Matsko of the People's Oil & Gas Collaborative-Ohio. “The unfettered access given to oil and gas companies after 2004 in Ohio are coming at a very real cost: not just the environmental concerns, but presumptions that they need not abide by zoning as do all other businesses in the state presents many risks. Now that people are coming to see the inequality in the state’s oil & gas rules and the industry's development under them, you are going to see a lot more Munroe Falls cases popping up.”
“When frackers are given license to buck local laws that are in place to protect residents and the state backs them, we have a real problem," said NRDC attorney Meleah Geertsma. "Communities have to retain the tools to ensure they are not the next victim of fracking impacts to hit Ohio’s newspapers.”
The Amicus brief was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court case number 2013-0465 this afternoon.