Ohio Justices Hear Akron-Area Drilling Rules Dispute

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Supreme Court justices in Ohio have vigorously challenged attorneys over the power of state-level oil and gas drilling regulations to supersede local zoning laws.

Their questioning came during arguments this Wednesday in a case brought by the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls against Beck Energy Corp.

Beck received state permission to drill on private property in the city in 2011. The city sued, saying the company illegally sidestepped local ordinances.

The state's attorney said Wednesday the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is empowered to regulate drilling, and the process includes safely locating wells.

Munroe Falls attorney Thomas Houlihan said cities have the right to impose zoning restrictions as they plan their communities, and the two levels should work together.

Pro- and anti-drilling forces see the Ohio case as potentially precedent-setting.