A dispute between the city of Munroe Falls and an oil and gas driller is headed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The case of Munroe Falls and Ravenna-based Beck Energy Corp. centers on whether drillers need to obtain local permits and follow local laws. The state, rather than local governments, has had control over drilling regulation since 2004. But Mayor Frank Larson said that infringes upon home rule.
"It's worked for so many years," he said. "Why all of the sudden are we stripping away the city's rights?"
Larson knows the city cannot regulate drilling himself. But he believes the city can have control over some aspects of the drilling process, including the paving of roads to reach wells.
Beck got a state permit in 2011 and started drilling off Munroe Falls Avenue. But the city told them to stop and filed suit, saying Beck needed to file for city permits and post a bond. A Summit County Common Pleas Court judge sided with Munroe Falls, but an appeals court overturned that ruling.
A date has not yet been set for the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) was at Akron's Echogen Power Systems LLC today to sign a new policy that makes changes to Ohio's energy and natural resource laws as well as other related programs.
Governor Kasich said that by signing Senate Bill 315, Ohio would have a comprehensive policy that would support low cost energy sources and meet job creation needs.
Elected officials, and others came to Echogen to witness the signing at the Akron-based company that uses waste heat to generate electricity.
Governor Kasich says this was a victory for both proponents of efficient energy strategies and those who seek job growth in the Buckeye State.
"This bill creates an independent energy policy for Ohio that becomes a model, frankly a role model for the rest of the country," Kasich said.
"It is also is important because it contributes to economic development."
With the signing of Senate Bill 315, tougher regulations are now in place for the exploration of natural gas in deep shale rock formations. Also the new law builds on the recently approved well construction standards, which protects groundwater and the environment.
What's most important is bill establishing regulations on hydraulic fracking process. "We have contained in this bill the most aggressive, clearest, fairest, and strongest fracking regulations in the country,"Kasich said.
The Governor says this will help the growing energy industry as well as protect the environment.
"You don't sacrifice job growth for the environment , and you don't do out of line environmental concerns to shut down employment, so it's a balance," Kasich explained.
"We should be really proud of today," the Governor said.
"We worked on this together and maybe we'll get the attention of some people in Washington who would be able to do the right things down there to make America an independent energy source and an independent energy operator that will contribute to a stronger economy."
In addition, two other bills were signed into law, including a midterm budget bill and another law regulating some new rules for casinos, bingo halls and other video lottery terminals that will be coming to Ohio's seven
That legislation would give extra money to certain cities with horse racetracks and places filing requirements on Internet cafes.
Summit County Council could weigh in soon in the "fracking" controversy.
Fracking is the controversial process of using high pressure liquid to extract oil and natural gas from underground shale...and oil and gas companies hoping to cash in are going after land in much of Eastern Ohio, including parts of Summit County.
A resolution making its way through Summit County Council would urge the state of Ohio to enact "reasonable regulations" overseeing the fracking process.
Summit County Council councilmember at large Sandra Kurt is one of those sponsoring the resolution.
"We want to do what we can to encourage the state legislature to make sure that when this type of drillling is done, that it's done safely, that it's done with concern for the residents of the state," Kurt tells AkronNewsNow.com, "both their safety, but also to make sure that we can take the best advantage of it that we can."
She says she hopes state lawmakers cede more local control over the process, because it affects people in a local area near the installations.
At very least, Kurt says shining light on the process will help educate local residents and help them get involved in the issue.
The resolution had its first reading on Monday night.
In other business, county sales tax income is continuing to grow.
County budget and finance director Brian Nelsen told council that sales tax revenue keeps going up in Summit County - up over 5 percent the first few months of this year, and seven percent for numbers that just came in for April.
Nelsen notes the trend of fast growing car sales in both the area and nationwide as fueling increases.
Other taxes, such as property tax conveyances, are trending up or down depending on the month.
Ohio's senior U.S. Senator paid a visit to Akron on Friday, and touched on a number of familiar themes...and some recent controversy.
Senator Sherrod Brown told the Akron Press Club that trade policy with China should be reformed, and that unique resources in Akron are being tapped to help in the continuing effort to rebuild the area's job base. Akron, he says, does it right.
"In Akron, we know what's right and we know how to make things better, in so many ways," Brown told the Press Club. "Folks like Russ Pry and Mayor Plusquellic, major institutions like the Austen BioInnovation Institute (and) the Akron Global Business Accelerator have worked together to promote economic opportunity."
Turning to recent headlines, Senator Brown said President Obama had "no choice" but to use a recess appointment to name former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the nation's new consumer watchdog. He said that big bank oversight wasn't the problem that the new agency headed by Cordray needed to get into gear immediately to address.
"It's not banks that are the biggest problems in a lot of this," Brown said, "Payday lenders, private student loan companies and all that...they couldn't regulate those...they could regulate the banks but not the 'non-banks' until there was a confirmed director in place. That's the law. So I think the president had no choice."
Senate Republicans have pushed back on the president's recess appointment of Cordray, though their objections are mainly with the new agency itself...and not specifically involving the former Ohio Attorney General.
Brown says he understands both sides of the "fracking" debate, saying he's been "neither a strong supporter of fracking, or a vocal opponent" of the process. He says Ohioans should be assured jobs from the process...and environmental protections should also be assured....though he says state goverments will have more oversight of the process, he wants to keep an eye on it at the Senate.
"My job as a senator is to make sure that we address as much of that as we can," Brown said, "both formally in terms of legislation, and informally in terms of working with these companies and working with community colleges so they can hire Ohioans who have been trained to do this work."
And in a humorous shot at his expected November opponent, Brown - answering an audience member's question - said he would "know the major differences" between himself and Republican Josh Mandel..."if he would come to the Akron Press Club and speak here."
Mandel has not accepted the club's numerous invitations to become a speaker, citing scheduling and other concerns.
Senator Brown pointed out that outside groups have already started running "$3 million worth" of television ads against him...ten months before he'll face voters in this year's general election.
An earthquake in the Youngstown area Saturday afternoon is being linked to an wastewater injection well near a fault line.
The Youngstown Vindicator reports that the state of Ohio has banned injection wells within five miles of a Youngstown well suspected of causing 11 earthquakes this year.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say there could be more earthquakes in the coming days and weeks due to underground brine pressure, which will take time to subside.
The ODNR says that the controversial practice of "fracking" - used to extract gas from underground shale - is not directly causing the quakes.
But the wastewater that's been injected in Youngstown is a byproduct of the drilling.
The New Year's Eve quake came just one day after a brine-injection well operator - D&L Energy - shut down its Youngstown well after a state order.
The quake's epicenter was originally reported at the small town of McDonald, but the Vindicator reports the epicenter location was later revised to a location near that Youngstown brine-injection well.
The newspaper reports only minor damage in areas near the quake. It was felt Saturday by many in the Akron area, in much of Northern Ohio and beyond, as far north as Buffalo, New York and nearby Canada.
On the Web: Youngstown Vindicator, www.vindy.com