Gates Mills, OH to Vote on Fracking Ban

In November, the village of Gates Mills, Ohio will vote on a ballot measure that would ban future oil and gas wells. There was some dispute, however, over the collection of signatures for the initiative. reports that “[Gates Mills Law Director Margaret] Cannon said 10 percent of the city’s 1,976 registered voters needed to sign the petition and adding more signatures wasn’t an option since the group had already filed the petition with the board of elections.

Residents argued they needed 10 percent of the number who voted in the last general municipal election — less than the 134 signatures they had already gathered.”

Citizens for the Preservation of Gates Mills, the group taking the lead on the initiative, continued to collect signatures to meet the new requirement. Later, however, the city officials reversed their position on the signatures and determined that the original amount of signatures was sufficient. Located in the booming Utica Shale region, the Gates Mills already has more than 40 vertical gas wells.

The efficacy of any community-approved bill of rights to prohibit drilling in Ohio is debatable. As noted in August’s HBW Fracking Report,

“In February 2014, the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments in Munroe Falls v. Beck Energy in which the city of Munroe Falls argues that it retains the right under the state’s constitution to regulate oil and gas activities. Several cities submitted amicus briefs in support of Munroe Falls’ position. Conversely, litigation filed by two energy companies has challenged that only the state can regulate oil and gas development and, as such, local ordinances are prohibited under state law. The outcome of these lawsuits could dramatically affect the amount and severity of local ordinances.”