A judge in Broadview Heights, Ohio, rules that oil and natural gas firms can drill new wells in the area

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab ruled that Bass Energy Co. Inc. and Ohio Valley Energy – and other oil and gas companies – can drill new wells in Broadview Heights, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The decision came after Broadview Heights made an amendment to its Community Bill of Rights banning the development of future oil and gas wells.

Bass and Ohio sued Broadview Heights in July challenging the Community Bill of Rights, which was approved in November 2012. The companies said that the state of Ohio, not Broadview Heights, has sole authority to permit or deny drilling and to regulate wells. Astrab agreed, saying the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has “sole and exclusive authority” to permit, locate, space and regulate oil and gas wells.

Astrab added that Broadview Heights’ 2012 charter amendment was an attempt to “strip corporate entities of their rights under the U.S. and Ohio constitutions,” and that state code prohibits local governments from exercising authority that “discriminates against, unfairly impedes or obstructs oil and gas activities and operations.”

Broadview Heights’ mayor, Sam Alai, said that the city has not decided whether or not it will appeal the decision. “We are discussing all of our options,” Alai said.

The Community Bills of Rights was a popular piece in Ohio ballots last election season, as four counties voted on whether or not to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing. Of the four, only Athens passed the measure, even though there was fracing activity in the region. Youngstown has denied the initiative four separate times, Production of the Utica Shale in Ohio has more than doubled since 2012 and created 5,700 jobs in 2013 alone. Youngstown’s once-high unemployment rate has been cut in half since 2010.

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