Contention of Drilling Rights vs. Home Rule Jurisdiction

In its hearing  State ex rel. Munroe Falls v. Beck Energy Corporation last Wednesday, a Cleveland Plain Dealer articleprofesses the Ohio Supreme Court not only decides oil and gas drilling rights in the Summit County community of Munroe Falls, but larger consequences for the rest of the state.

“At issue,” the Plain Dealer relates, “is whether zoning rules and other laws enacted by communities are trumped by an Ohio law that gives the state exclusive rights to regulate oil and gas drilling to ensure uniform regulation. (But) a half dozen other communities, including Broadview Heights, Euclid and North Royalton, have filed briefs with the court in support of Munroe Falls and its assertion of home-rule rights under the state constitution." ( See Court’s docket )

“It’s not about fracking and it’s not about gas wells. It’s about home rule,” Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson told an interview Tuesday. “It’s not about oil and gas. It’d be simple if it was.”

Munroe Falls sued in Summit County Common Pleas Court after the state issued Beck Energy Corp. a drilling permit, the city contending that Beck was violating local laws -- a zoning ordinance and four drilling provisions – that conflicted with the state statute. The Summit County court sided with the city in 2011, the article reported,  but Beck Energy got that ruling overturned on appeal -- The Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals holding that the local zoning rules conflicted with the state statute, which gives the state “sole and exclusive authority” over oil and gas drilling across Ohio. ( District Court's ruling ) Munroe Falls appealed that ruling. (Memorandum in support of jurisdiction )

On the other side of the case are Beck Energy and a local property owner who leased drilling rights to Beck. Joining them, are the state of Ohio, a host of oil and gas related organizations and business groups, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. (Memorandum in response )

See also Court News Ohio’s recording of oral arguments here.