Babst Calland: Cincinnati Bans UIC Wells Within City Limits

Babst Calland: Cincinnati Bans UIC Wells Within City Limits

On August 1, 2012, Cincinnati became the first locality in Ohio to ban underground injection wells. The City Council, citing an inability to assess the risks to public health, safety and welfare of injected waste, voted unanimously on Ordinance No. 314 to prohibit waste disposal by injection within the city limits. The Ordinance amends the definition of "Disposal" under Cincinnati Municipal Code Section 729-1-D to state that "Disposal shall not mean injection into any land by well or otherwise, which shall be prohibited on any land in the city."

The immediate impact of the Ordinance does not appear to be significant as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has not received any applications for permits to drill an oil, gas or injection well in Cincinnati. However, the oil and gas industry may have considered Cincinnati a viable option for future injection wells due to the city's accessibility via rail and water.

While the Ordinance was enacted pursuant to the municipality's authority to adopt ordinances for the protection of the general welfare of the municipality, the Ordinance arguably conflicts with Ohio's Oil and Gas Law which grants ODNR with the authority to issue permits for Class 2 (oil and gas drilling and production fluids) injection wells and to regulate oil and gas production operations within the state. Should the Ordinance be challenged in court, it may be held to be unlawful as inconsistent with state law. The oil and gas industry should monitor the sustainability of Cincinnati's Ordinance as other municipalities may try to follow suit.

If you have questions about this new Ordinance or other issues related to natural gas exploration and production in Ohio, please contact David E. Northrop at 412-394-6590 or dnorthrop@babstcalland.com, Robert W. Thomson at 412-394-5656 or rthomson@babstcalland.com, Michael H. Winek at 412-394-6538 or mwinek@babstcalland.com, or Ryan D. Elliott at 412-394-5432 or relliott@babstcalland.com.

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