Ohio activist group loses drilling lawsuit, plans to appeal

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) – A community activist group near Cleveland that opposes oil and gas wells in residential neighborhoods said it plans to appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the state.

Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhood, which is based in Broadview Heights, claimed the city’s Community Bill of Rights approved by voters in 2012 supersedes a state law permitting drilling.

But Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick dismissed the lawsuit this week, citing a February Ohio Supreme Court case that said municipalities’ home rule does not overrule state law regulating oil and gas drilling. The court had given the Ohio Department of Natural Resources exclusive authorization to permit, locate and regulate wells in 2004.

In 2007, Bass Energy Co., of Fairlawn, signed a lease with a Broadview Heights church allowing them to drill oil and gas wells on 100 acres of their property. The company drilled three wells on the site.

The community bill of rights passed in 2012 intended to prevent more wells from coming to town, but a judge overturned the ban in March after Bass and another drilling company sued the city.

Mothers group Director Tish O’Dell’s suit argued both federal and state constitutions allowed citizens to govern themselves locally and protect their communities.

“Based on his decision it doesn’t look like he read a word of our brief,” O’Dell told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “We’re not giving up. We’re not going away.”

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Information from: Northeast Ohio Media Group, http://www.cleveland.com

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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