Zoning – Oil and Gas issues

Regulating oil and gas via zoning

The last twenty years oil and gas drilling for Clinton Sandstone wells has moved into urban areas, as drilling locations in rural areas have been used up.  Under the concept of “home rule” enjoyed by municipalities, cities and villages enjoy broad police powers to regulate health, safety and public welfare.   As a result, a number of Ohio communities attempted to “zone-out” or otherwise regulate away drilling activity.  In State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-485, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a municipality could not impose its own stringent well permitting requirements on top of the state’s system of regulation.  The court found that under O.R.C. 1509, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is given the sole authority “to regulate the permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations.”  Under Section 1509.02 local governments have limited regulatory powers, so long as those powers are not exercised “in a manner that discriminates against, unfairly impedes, or obstructs oil and gas activities and operations regulated under [Chapter 1509].”