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State Supreme Court Imposes Strict Limitations on Secretary of State’s Authority to Block Anti-Fracking Ballot Measures, Granting Oil and Gas Interests a Limited Victory

This week the Ohio Supreme Court denied three Ohio counties’ attempts to ban high-volume hydraulic fracking. But that denial was procedural, not substantive, so the victory is limited to the instance at hand and the counties are free to try again. Earlier this summer, citizens of Medina, Fulton, and Athens counties petitioned their respective Boards … Continue Reading

Lawsuit Challenges Ohio’s Disqualification of Local Anti-Frac Ballot Initiatives

Residents in three Ohio counties have sued the state after Secretary of State Jon Husted invalidated three ballot proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing projects in Fulton, Medina, and Athens counties. The bans, if passed, would become part of the respective county charters. Husted based his decision on the Ohio Supreme Court’s February ruling in State … Continue Reading

State Oil and Gas Laws v. Local Control: The Struggle Continues in Ohio

On February 17, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court announced its ruling in The State Ex Rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corporation et al. That closely-watched case addressed whether local ordinances that impact drilling operations are preempted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR’s) authority to issue oil and gas drilling permits under R.C. Chapter … Continue Reading

Ohio Elections Yield Mixed Results on Local Hydraulic Fracturing Bans

Last week’s Election Day in Ohio produced victories for fracing supporters and opponents alike. Proposed hydraulic fracturing bans were on the ballot in four different municipal contests.  Voters in one city, Athens, approved a ban, while similar legislation was rebuffed in three other municipalities. Looming in the background of these referenda, however, is the Ohio … Continue Reading

Study Linking Earthquakes to Fracing May Shake the Ballots

On October 15, seismologist Paul A. Friberg published an article in the journal Seismological Research Letters that links earthquakes to hydraulic fracturing. The report was published less than a month before today’s vote, in which several communities will make decisions affecting the burgeoning domestic energy business. The article links hydraulic fracturing, not only to the … Continue Reading

Multistate Regulators Meet in Columbus, Discuss Seismic Activity

From October 19th to 21st, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission hosted its 2014 annual conference in Columbus, Ohio.  The organization is a collection of regulators from states in which there is significant oil and natural gas exploration and development, and it advocates for states’ rights to govern petroleum resources within their borders.  One … Continue Reading

An Update on Recent Oil- and Gas-Related Decisions in Ohio

Due to increased drilling activity in the Utica shale formation, state and federal courts in Ohio and the 6th Circuit have recently issued decisions related to local drilling regulations, drilling permits, leasing, indemnity provisions, and whether a landowner can state a strict liability claim against a drilling company that survives a motion to dismiss.  While … Continue Reading

Youngstown, Ohio, Contractor Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison for Wastewater Dumping Scheme

We previously reported on the federal criminal and State of Ohio enforcement actions arising from the release of tens of thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste into a Youngstown, Ohio, area tributary by Hard Rock Excavating (Hard Rock) during late 2012 and early 2013.  On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Nugent handed Hard … Continue Reading

Did an Ohio Spill Expose a Leak in Ohio’s Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Laws?

After a recent accident at an Ohio unconventional drilling site, Governor Kasich expressed concern about the state’s fracturing-fluids-disclosure laws. The June accident spilled chemicals ­– including the drilling company’s proprietary hydraulic fracturing fluid – into a nearby stream. But under Ohio’s disclosure laws, the company didn’t have to reveal the contents of its proprietary fluid … Continue Reading

Ohio Natural Gas Production Reaches Historic Levels

Natural gas production in Ohio nearly doubled last year largely because of a surge in hydraulic fracturing operations in the state.  Speaking at a conference earlier this month about oil and gas development in the state, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer said the amount of natural gas extracted in Ohio … Continue Reading

Ohio Tremors Cause Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to Contemplate New Fracking Regulations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is considering regulating drilling near “seismic hazard areas” after geologists linked a series of small earthquakes in Ohio to fracking at a Utica Shale well. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the DEP is beginning a “massive data-mining project” to determine whether the regulations are necessary. In April, state … Continue Reading

Aubrey McClendon’s American Energy Partners LP Announces Agreements to Purchase over $4 Billion of Shale Acreage in Utica, Marcellus, and the Permian Basin.

In two press releases Monday, American Energy Partners LP announced agreements to purchase shale acreage in the Utica and Marcellus shale for $1.75 billion, and acreage in the Permian Basin in Texas for $2.5 billion. The deals are expected to close in the next 60 days. American Energy Partners CEO Aubrey McClendon formed the company … Continue Reading

Debates Continue on Pennsylvania and Ohio Severance Tax Proposals

Pennsylvania legislators continue to debate a severance tax proposal announced late last year, and previously discussed on this blog.  Under that severance tax proposal, the commonwealth’s system of impact fees would be replaced with a 4.9% severance tax.  A bipartisan group of legislators announced that proposal, and it appears that support for a severance tax … Continue Reading

Ohio Imposes New Fugitive Emissions Rules on Horizontal Drillers

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) has announced new requirements for horizontal drillers aimed at reducing air pollution from so-called “fugitive emissions,” which are generally caused by leaking valves or connectors in drilling equipment. The regulations specifically target methane and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in the drilling process.  The new rules will require … Continue Reading

Ohio House Ways and Means Committee Receives Testimony on Substitute House Bill 375

            On February 12, 2014, Ohio House Ways and Means Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Gary Scherer offered a substitute House Bill 375 to the Ways and Means Committee, including significant amendments from the prior version of House Bill 375 previously reported here. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission has published a Substitute Bill Comparative Synopsis, which describes … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Recap: Ohio Supreme Court Considers Home Rule in Challenge to Zoning Ordinances Restricting Drilling

On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court held oral argument to determine the scope of Ohio’s constitutional guarantee of municipal “home rule.”  The case—brought by the city of Munroe Falls, Ohio against Beck Energy Corp. for violations of its local zoning laws—concerns the constitutionality of Ohio Revised Code § 1509.02, which grants the Ohio Department of … Continue Reading

Ohio Ways and Means Committee Receives Testimony on Horizontal Drilling Tax Proposal

            On January 8 and 15, 2014 the Ohio House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee received testimony on House Bill 375 (“HB 375” or the “Bill”).  The Bill, previously reported on this blog, would introduce a new tax on owners of horizontal oil and natural gas wells through which oil or natural gas are … Continue Reading

Ohio House Bill 375

            On December 4, 2013 Ohio House Speaker Rep. William Batchelder, Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Matt Huffman, Majority Whip Rep. Cheryl Grossman, Finance and Appropriations Committee chair Ron Amstutz, Agriculture and Nature Resources Committee chair Rep. David Hall, and other members of the Ohio House Republican Caucus introduced House Bill 375 (“HB 375”) which includes … Continue Reading

Ohio House Leaders Propose Higher Oil and Gas Taxes on Horizontal Drilling

Co-Author:  Daniel Kavouras Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives have proposed a tax increase on oil and gas production in the state, focusing specifically on wells using “horizontal drilling“ in conjunction with hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from Ohio’s shale deposits. The bill—HB 375—would impose a 1 percent “severance” tax … Continue Reading

Severance Tax Debate Continues

Through the summer and leading up to the adoption of Ohio’s biennial budget, changes to Ohio’s severance tax were discussed in the General Assembly and in the media.  Severance tax provisions were cut from discussions fairly early in the budget process, and the budget became law without any change to the severance tax.  Still, those … Continue Reading

Voters in Youngstown, Ohio Once Again Vote No on Anti-fracking Measure

For a second time in less than a year voters in Youngstown, Ohio have rejected an amendment that would prohibit fracking in the city of Youngstown, this time by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.  This margin mirrors the previous vote in May which failed as well by a 57 percent to 43 … Continue Reading

6th Circuit Backs Chesapeake In Ohio Gas Lease Fight

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Ohio landowners do not have a contractual right to terminate their oil and gas leases with Chesapeake Exploration LLC based on Chesapeake’s failure to match third-party offers to lease the same property. Affirming the district court’s ruling, the appeals panel held that the leases unambiguously … Continue Reading
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