July 23, 2014

Medina
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State drilling laws questioned by Brunswick council

BRUNSWICK — City Council members say they don’t want the state to regulate oil and gas drilling in Brunswick.

At a Committee-of-the Whole meeting Monday, Council members considered a resolution to voice their disapproval of state laws that give the Ohio Department of Natural Resources the sole right to issue oil and gas drilling permits, including wells employing a controversial hydraulic fracturing process, better know as “fracking.”

Anthony Capretta

“We have no right to regulate fracking in our own community,” said at-large Councilwoman Pat Hanek.

The resolution would put Council on record formally opposing Ohio laws that date back to at least 2005.

Council agreed to put off a vote on the resolution until its Feb. 11 meeting at the urging of Mayor Gary Werner, who warned members against a “knee-jerk” reaction to hydraulic fracturing.

Werner argued that state laws were aimed at encouraging oil and gas exploration by establishing uniform rules throughout Ohio.

The mayor said Council’s resolution would be a “deterrent” to economic development.

“There’s a whole lot of economics tied to this industry,” Werner said. “This money can go to Pennsylvania and other states.”

Werner provided Council members with information about the history of hydraulic fracturing and oil drilling in Ohio and encouraged them to consider the business and economic issues involved before taking a vote.

Hanek said she and other Council members have attended sessions debating the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, a process using pressurized water treated with chemicals to force natural gas and petroleum products from deep beneath the earth’s surface.

At-large Councilman Ron Falconi said it was his understanding of state laws that oil and gas companies can drill wells anywhere they choose so long as they get state approval.

He said the laws do not take local zoning into consideration.

“It seems as though they can place (wells) anywhere,” he said.

Ward 2 Councilman Vince Carl and Ward 4 Councilman Anthony Capretta both said they supported legislation opposing state laws that remove home rule.
Carl said the state laws usurp the rights of municipalities.

“I don’t like people from Columbus coming in and telling us what to do,” Carl said.

Capretta said the mayor’s arguments didn’t change his view.

Capretta said he’s already researched the issue and said most of his constituents oppose fracking.

“I’m against it, and I think our residents are against it,” he said.

In addition to environmental concerns, Capretta said residents are worried their property values might go down because of hydraulic fracturing operations.
“I’m sticking with my residents on this one,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.