Update on Morgantown, WV Ban on Fracking Outside its Borders: You’re About to Get Sued

Morgantown, WV is about to get sued for banning hydraulic fracturing outside of its borders. As MDN previously reported (see here), the Morgantown City Council voted on June 21 to ban hydraulic fracturing within its borders and up to one mile outside of its borders. The decision has shut down an active operation for two wells being drilled by Northeast Natural Energy. WV has a law allowing cities to extend their reach up to a mile in order to carry out city functions. Many think City Council has overreached in this case.

According to Northeast Natural Energy president Mike John, the City sandbagged them with the vote.

John admits he was caught off guard by that vote.

He says it was “surprising” and “frustrating” because planning and preparations for the drilling projects have been going on for months and months.  He says city officials have been part of that entire process.

John says adequate precautions have been built into the plans.  “We see the City passing an ordinance that is intended to shut us down when we’ve been working with them for months and have agreed to each and every one of their requests,” John said.

So what’s ahead for Northeast Natural Energy and the City of Morgantown? Court.

[John] says he is reluctant to sue the City of Morgantown.

“I want us to do everything we can to avoid that,” Mike John said on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.

“I do not want to see the residents of the City of Morgantown financially exposed by the actions of the council, but I will admit that I believe our options are dwindling.  I’m not sure that we have many (other) options left.”*

About the only thing that will prevent a lawsuit at this point is if the state legislature passes legislation that overrides the Morgantown vote—something not likely to happen. Hope the good citizens of Morgantown enjoy having their tax rates hiked to pay for City Council’s actions.

*MetroNews (Jun 23, 2011) – ‘Our Options Are Dwindling’

  • Yes, and the drilling site was three thousand feet upstream from the city water intake, and a few scant miles upstream from Bobtown’s fresh water intake. Neither water authority has the technology in place, or the wherewithal to filter out the toxins that would result from a spill. The wells, and their inevitable toxin-belching compressor batteries and heavy truck traffic are a thousand feet  from a middle school. WV lacks has 15 inspectors to cover the entire state, and is ruled by pols in the pocket of industry who lack the will to enact meaningful regulation. The permits for the well site you reference was slipped through in secret. Good for Morgantown (where my cancer-survivor momis housed in a nursing facility)!

  • Anonymous

    The article fails to mention that the well sites are on a Superfund Site and that the well sites are below an elementary and a middle school.

  • Pingback: Driller Sues Morgantown, WV Over Fracking Ban, Monongalia County Considers Suing the City Too | Marcellus Drilling News()

  • disqus4u

    The schools sit on a hilltop, quite distant and safely away from this “evil” well site and this Superfund Site is cleaner today (with the well sites on it) than it has ever been since WWII. Now please tell the audience what revered father of Morgantown bought and gutted the defunct Morgantown Ordanance Works facility for all of its valuable scrap metals and precious metals and then left a polluted site and buildings for taxpayers to clean up many years later. Come now, he had a jewel of a name.

  • disqus4u

    If Ms. Wozniak were a Morgantown resident rather than a day-tripping Pennsylvanian resident who just works in my home town, her geography and knowledge of the city would be plausible and correct. The city’s water intake is directly across the river from the well sites and just upstream, not 3,000 feet downstream. Bobtown, PA is 12-15 miles downstream of the well sites. There were no “toxins” of any kind that spilled or belched during the drilling or fracking of these sites and now that the wells are producing nothing other than clean natural gas, Ms Wozniak and her ilk can sleep soundly. I do and I only live a half mile from the well sites and look forward to reduced natural gas prices this winter.