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’