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Akron Opposes Unitization Bill Under Consideration by Ohio Lawmakers

The city council of Akron, OH, voted unanimously Monday to approve a resolution opposing a bill under consideration by state lawmakers that would allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public land -- including city parks -- without permission from municipalities.

A city council clerk told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday that Resolution No. 205-2015, which was sponsored by Councilman Rich Swirsky, passed by a 13-0 vote. It expresses opposition to HB 8 on the grounds that it would "amend Ohio's oil and gas laws to allow the forced inclusion of public land, including municipal parks, in a drilling unit, without the permission of the public entity, through horizontal drilling and [fracking]."

According to the latest version of the bill, Sub HB 8, the sections of the state's oil and gas law that pertain to unit operation would be amended. Specifically, it would allow the chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) to "issue an order for the unit operation of a pool or a part of a pool that encompasses a unit area consisting in whole or in part of oil or natural gas resources owned or controlled by the state or a political subdivision of the state other than a state park...however, no disruption of the surface of the land in a state forest...shall occur as a result of an order issued under this section.

John Moore, Akron public service director, said the city's legal department was looking into the proposed legislation to see if that means an operator could drill a well in a city park.

"It's just another instance of them taking home rule away from us," Moore told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday. "That's pretty much it. We've historically supported drilling in the city over the years, and we've leased a lot of our land for drilling operations. But we don't like the idea that they're just going to take that away from us."

Moore said Akron currently has about 230 wells drilled within the city limits. He said that several years ago operators were interested in targeting the Clinton Sandstone, and the city received about 20 requests per year from operators to drill. But requests to drill have tapered off in recent years.

"When the Clinton zones were hot, we had a lot of requests," Moore said. "But in the last few years it's kind of dropped off."

HB 8 unanimously passed by the state House of Representatives on March 18, on a 98-0 vote (see Shale DailyMarch 19). Republican lawmakers, the oil and gas industry and its supporters all back the bill, which they say will eliminate some roadblocks to oil and gas development.

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