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Local Elected Officials Want More Control Of Oil And Gas Industry

As Ohio’s oil and gas industry has grown, the legislature has consolidated oversight power with the state. More than 100 elected officials from around Ohio asked Gov. John Kasich to help restore more local control through a letter.

A state senator from Akron, and council members from Cuyahoga County and Cleveland, are among the many Northeast Ohio officials who signed onto the letter organized by the national advocacy group Environment America.

But the letter lacked signatures from the state’s most heavily affected boom areas. Anti-fracking activists say the state isn’t doing enough to protect local health and welfare.

James O’Reilly, a City Council member for the Cincinnati suburb Wyoming, says negative impacts of the gas boom, like pollution, will linger long after drillers have moved on.

"What are we going to do to protect that legacy? We can’t do it now under the way the law is," he said. "We need that authority given back to us."

An Ohio Supreme Court ruling in February affirmed the state’s power to preempt local rules, contributing to the overturning of a fracking ban in Broadview Heights.

Many state and industry officials say without uniform statewide rules, developers would be hampered by a maze of local regulations.

A spokesperson for Gov. Kasich says those who signed onto the letter should take their concerns to the state legislature.