http://gty.im/670333 Press Release from People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative- Ohio (POGCO)
Akron, OH. As the oil and gas boom grows in Ohio, first after HB 278 (2004) opened up community neighborhoods for exploration and later as industrial scale horizontal operations commenced in Northeast Ohio, a team of volunteers has worked together to quietly assist those in need.
The People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative- Ohio (POGCO) Founder and Director, Kari Matsko, states “The People’s Legal Team developed organically as we continually connected affected citizens and communities with experienced attorneys whom we trust not just because of their success on similar cases but based on their passions to defend the Constitution and Civil Rights.
This May, a jury found in favor of one of the affected families we assisted in their case against Dominion East Ohio Gas. For several years the Alford’s suffered the affects of extreme noise, fumes and vibrations while living next door to gas compressor facilities. “We came home to what sounded like a very large commercial airliner taking off beside our home, continuously and not going anywhere. The vibrations and sound were unbelievable” said Erin Alford of their quality of life over the years. Their verdict not only benefits the Alford’s, but the case law paves the way for other negatively impacted citizens to more easily pursue claims of negligence and nuisance when faced with similar operations in Ohio.
Currently the Supreme Court is considering Munroe Falls v. Beck Energy Corp., a case which presents the critical issue of whether Ohio’s oil and gas regulatory scheme acts to supersede and preempt a municipality’s constitutional right to enact and enforce its local ordinances to control oil and gas drilling activity within its borders. Thomas Houlihan, who argued the case in February, predicts a Court decision by late summer or fall.
“The State can issue a permit to drill anywhere, including residential areas, while those in the best position to determine appropriate land use in their communities, the local elected officials and residents, are helpless to do anything about it,” said Barbara Tavaglione, Legal Director for POGCO who filed an amicus brief in support of Munroe Falls. This case addresses that problem.
Warner Mendenhall, a long time contributor to the People’s Legal Team adds: “In the pell mell rush to cash in on the oil and gas boom, worker safety, the environment, and legal rights are being sacrificed. We are trying to make everyone aware of the political and legal tools citizens can use to protect themselves and their communities.”