This week the Ohio legislature takes on a busy legislative schedule after the holiday break. Among the many pieces of legislation getting attention are five bills pertaining to the oil and gas industry. These bills, all of them Democrat-sponsored, are up for hearing before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this week. While no further action is expected before the end of the year, these bills propose significant changes to existing oil and gas regulations and threaten to undermine the regulatory framework in Ohio.
Here are brief summaries of the bills:
HB 537: Local Government Authority To Regulate Oil and Gas Industry
HB 537 would bring the largest changes to the regulatory landscape. This bill seeks to give political subdivisions (i.e. local governments) authority to enact their own regulations on oil and gas operations.
The existing law, R.C. 1509.02, gives “sole authority” for oil and gas regulation to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (“ODNR”), which prevents local governments from creating their own regulations.
This bill removes the language from the statute that establishes the ODNR as the “sole authority” and authorizes political subdivisions to write their own oil and gas regulations. The bill preserves state regulations as a “floor” and allows political subdivisions to further restrict oil and gas operations.
This bill would fundamentally alter the regulatory landscape in Ohio. In one of our September posts we already discussed state preemption of local oil and gas regulation through R.C. 1509.02. This bill upsets the current balance of power …