Decision On Well Permit Will Be Appealed

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Athens County Fracking Action Network will appeal Thursday’s decision by the Ohio Oil & Gas Commission that threw out a case related to a Troy Twp. injection well, according to ACFAN’s attorney.

“We will be filing that appeal as soon as we can,” said attorney Richard Sahli. He said it will be filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

After the state issued a permit in December related to a K&H Partners injection well near Torch, the Athens County Fracking Action Network filed a challenge with the Oil & Gas Commission. Both the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and K&H Partners filed motions asking the commission to dismiss the matter on grounds it lacked jurisdiction.

As The Messenger has previously reported, the commission on Thursday granted the motions to dismiss. The commission ruled that the permit was a drilling permit — not an injection permit — and that Ohio law does not allow drilling permits to be reviewed by the commission.

The commission’s lack of jurisdiction over drilling permits was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2013, but the court also said the commission retained jurisdiction over injection permits issued under a different section of Ohio law, according to Thursday’s ruling.

ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce said Thursday that the injection permit for the K&H Partners injection well was issued in April. Injection wells are used to dispose of waste from oil and gas production wells, including fracking waste.

Sahli said a decision has not been made on whether to try to appeal the injection permit. He said Ohio law allows 30 days to appeal issuance of the permit, but he noted that on May 6 a public records request was filed that covered April — and presumably the injection permit — but no records had been received as of Friday morning.

According to Sahli, the commission accepted ODNR’s explanation that two permits are required for injection wells without ever determining the legality of it. He claimed that traditionally ODNR has used a single-permit system.

Sahli asserted that going to a two-permit system allows ODNR to prevent commission review of geological issues related to the drilling permits.

“That’s where all the critical data is for the potential for ground water contamination,” Sahli said.

ACFAN had argued that the December permit was an injection well permit over which the commission had jurisdiction, but the commission ruled otherwise.