Ohio Elected Officials Want More Local Control Over Oil and Gas Development

A drilling rig. ideastream file photo
A drilling rig. ideastream file photo
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By Joanna Richards

As Ohio’s oil and gas industry has grown, the Legislature has consolidated oversight power with the state. Today, more than 100 elected officials from around Ohio asked Governor John Kasich to help restore more local control.

A state senator from Akron, council members from Cuyahoga County and Cleveland, and the president of the Lorain County Board of Commissioners are among the many Northeast Ohio officials who signed onto the letter organized by the national advocacy group Environment America.

But the letter lacked signatures from the state’s most heavily affected boom areas.

Anti-fracking activists say the state isn’t doing enough to protect local health and welfare.

James O’Reilly, a City Council member for the Cincinnati suburb Wyoming, said negative impacts of the gas boom, like pollution, will linger long after drillers have moved on.

“What are we going to do to protect that legacy? We can’t do it now under the way the law is. We need that authority given back to us,” he said.

A state Supreme Court ruling in February affirmed the state’s power to preempt local rules, contributing to the overturning of a fracking ban in Broadview Heights.

Many state and industry officials say without uniform statewide rules, developers would be hampered by a maze of local regulations.

A spokesman for the Governor said those who signed onto the letter should take their concerns to the state Legislature. 

See the full letter here.

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