Niles ban disservice to residents

Shame on Niles City Council for adopting what it called a ”community bill of rights” when it passed an ordinance that attempts to ban hydraulic fracturing and deep well injections.

While those opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and deep well injections certainly have a right for their voices to be heard, Niles’ elected officials should not exclude those residents and business owners who certainly have a right to lease their private property for oil and natural gas exploration and extraction.

Some property owners may have paid more money for their land because the mineral rights for fracking came with it. Some property owners may have accepted less money for their land in exchange for retaining the mineral rights for fracking. Some property owners may have already leased mineral rights, or paid lawyers to negotiate leases fracking rights.

One might ask, ”Which Niles representatives are proposing a bill of rights for these property owners?

In attempting to ban drilling, Niles officials may have caused more damage than just interfering with the rights of property owners. Niles, which has staved off financial crisis by dwindling the size of its safety forces, could offer prime locations for oil and natural gas companies and their support industries to locate offices for high-paying, white collar, even science-related professionals. The shale boom could replenish the city’s diminishing income tax.

Likewise, Niles schools, also on the cusp of financial crisis, could see a spike in enrollment from an influx of service professionals relocating their families. The schools could also benefit from more property taxpayers.

Niles also has its own public land that could generate tidy sums from the leasing of mineral rights. Then there’s the income tax generated from drilling rig workers, many of whom earn salaries in the six-figure range.

Instead, Niles is about to bleed cash as it tries to defend an ordinance that contradicts state law. The legal fees could be substantial.

An ordinance that establishes zoning limits to keep certain drilling-related activity from densely populated neighborhoods would make much more sense. Instead, what Niles City Council passed would be akin to an early 1900s Niles City Council passing an ordinance banning steel mills.