Morgantown Official Backpedals After Drilling Ban Overturned

It’s always interesting to watch politicians operate after a humiliating defeat. Politicians’ DNA does not allow them to simply look inward and recognize their own errors. They always look outward and blame others, or in some cases, declare the defeat was a good thing and accomplished just what they wanted all along! I refer to the situation in Morgantown, WV. In June, Morgantown City Council members voted to ban hydraulic fracturing both inside and up to one mile outside their borders (see this MDN story). This threatened a pair of Marcellus Shale wells being drilled about a mile from city lines. The result? The driller, Northeast Energy, sued the city. Last week a judge overturned the city’s ban and now hydraulic fracturing will commence (see this MDN story). All told, Northeast probably lost about a month out of their original drilling schedule (they continued drilling anyway, the ban specifically prohibited fracking and not drilling per se).

So what does the Morgantown City Manager say about all of this?

City manager Terrence Moore says the city’s strategy in all of this was to find out what powers they did and didn’t have when it comes to regulating drilling, and now they’re ready to move forward.

A judge said on Friday that the power to regulate drilling companies who use the fracking method to drill for natural gas in Marcellus shale deposits belongs to the state DEP, and not Morgantown, which makes the ban invalid.

This clears the way for a company already drilling in the Morgantown area to continue their operations.

Moore says now the city will do all they can to work with everyone involved in these drilling processes to make the best possible situation.

"Our position is what I’ve pretty well just discussed: visiting with council, reviewing options.  However, at this point, our interest is to work with everybody involved, all the stakeholders at the state level, Northeast Energy, et cetera, so that we can get to a good place," says Moore.*

Er, right. The strategy was to push the legal boundaries and find out whether or not the city actually had the power to do what they did, right? And now that they know they don’t have that right, that’s just the outcome they hoped for—clears the way, now we’ll work with the drilling company, we’ll get to a good place, blah blah blah… What a load!

The only thing accomplished by city council’s foolish action was to put more money in lawyers’ hands and delay the drilling process by a month. Instead of continuing to work with Northeast as they originally had been, city council chose to create a hostile atmosphere for Northeast. Hopefully the voters of Morgantown will remember that at the next election cycle.

*WDTV Channel 5 (Aug 15, 2011) – Morgantown City Officials Weigh in on Overturned Fracking Ban

  • The BP Gulf spill, the devastation of West Virginia, the Japanese nuclear disaster as a result of the Tsunami, the Exxon Valdeze disaster, Chernoble, Three Mile Island.A few making huge profits. What kind of world are we leaving to our children.

    Barbara Rosen

  • I don’t know anyone in favor of such accidents Barbara. I’m certainly not. But where you only see greed and problems, I see tremendous good and opportunity. The irony is not lost on me that the very computer you’re writing your comment on, and the Internet you access to make your views known, is a *direct* result of cheap energy by the very same companies you criticize as being greedy. Would you rather go back to candles and horse & buggy?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe Mr. Willis if you had only a spring or water well for your domestic water because public water was not made available to you and if you lived in WV where current law allows a Marcellus gas well to be drilled just 200 feet from a water well and dwelling, then maybe you would have some trepidation also.

  • Anonymous

    “Would you rather go back to candles and horse & buggy?”

    I think its wholly disingenuous to suggest that’s the ONLY interpretation of Barbara’s comment..  What the hell is wrong with you? 

    The companies she cited all took shortcuts, shortchanging citizens, workers and the environment.  She’s not calling for them to be abandoned, just follow the f’ing rules…what is so hard to understand about that?  Where do you get any implication that she’s a closet Amish person from her statement?

    Please explain Mr. “Editor”.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder, how many comments, including my reply to the ‘editor’ in this subject, are actually printed.  By the way, hydraulic fracturing should be regulated by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.  The land is the nations, whether you live in that state or not.  Its not just the ‘states’.  If you think it is, please, join that secessionist movement I’ve heard so dearly about, so the full might of the US Military can show you how FEEBLE your attempt would be…then, make YOU pay for the excursion out of pocket.

  • Answer to your first question: All comments are published that are not profane. And, thank you for admitting you’re a statist–the opposite of what the founders intended for this country. They put their stock, as I do, in individuals–NOT the government. No sir, the land does NOT belong to the government–it belongs to the people. My money belongs to ME, not the government. Beyond me how historically inept people like you are.

  • Anonymous

    “…government–it belongs to the people.”  Mr. Willis, “we the people” are the federal government.

  • Actually, “WE THE PEOPLE” are not the government, the government is meant to work FOR us, not control us as they see fit. The founders intended the states to manage the needs of the citizens there, and the fed to provide security for the people. Today, We The People believe that we owe our lives and individual rights to the government, and that is not so. Jim is correct, the early founders believed that the people would regulate themselves. Today, I cant build on my property without permission from the  local government, and if many people had their way, without permission from the federal government.

    However, as a Pro Gas member, many people would be outraged to hear that I agree that regulation needs to be stricter… And it really pains me to say that. 

    @bittersweet590:disqus I do have a well on my farm, far from any city water, and my parents recently signed a contract, I am happy for them, and we will be monitoring our water well before any drilling takes place, and long after it begins… but I am optimistic that there will be no problems, just like the majority of wells that are drilled. In PA we have nearly 50000 wells, and while there are problems sometimes, they are not nearly what those who oppose Nat Gas would have you believe 

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