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City should have final say on oil well

Two more boards have issued two more rulings on proposed drilling at Arlington, but the next step — to city residents anyway — seems clear as, well, oil.

First, the Natchez Preservation Commission said “no.” It was the same answer they gave last year.

Then, Wednesday, the state oil and gas board said, “yes.”

But can the state board overrule the local boards? No one has definitively answered that question yet.

The city attorney contends that RMB Exploration must still receive city approval, including an OK from the Natchez Planning Commission and the aldermen.

We agree.

The state oil and gas board has no place determining what can and can’t happen inside the city limits, unless it’s somehow a matter of public safety.

And we hope the developer will continue to pursue appropriate city approvals before taking any action at the site.

At the same time, the City of Natchez needs to make clear its position on the matter.

Originally the aldermen said, “no.”

But recently, Mayor Butch Brown and the city planner voiced at least some level of support for a compromise plan.

Brown wouldn’t comment after the oil and gas board’s ruling, leaving residents, especially those in the affected area, left to worry about what will happen now.

The city should certainly be ready to stand its ground, though. Natchez residents elected the mayor and aldermen to represent their best interests, and the local leaders certainly know the community’s needs better than a board in Jackson.

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