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West Virginia’s regulatory environment markedly different than neighboring Pennsylvania

October 2, 2017

The State Journal,

Linda Harris,

September 29, 2017-

Industry leaders were told this week West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio couldn’t be more different when it comes to the regulatory environment governing oil and gas operations. Babst Calland’s Blaine Lucas told attendees at Shale Insight 2017 in Pittsburgh this week that West Virginia case law governing local pre-emption — the line between local government authority and state controls — is relatively straightforward: First, a Monongalia County circuit judge nixed a ban on fracking within a mile of Morgantown’s city limits in 2011.

Then, just a few months ago, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s finding that Fayette County commissioners had overstepped their authority when they attempted to ban the handling, storage and disposal of wastewaters associated with oil and gas operations within their county — essentially making any oil and gas operations a punishable offense. In the Fayette County decision, Appeals Judge Pamela Harris pointed out West Virginia law “simply does not permit a county to ban an activity — here, the permanent disposal of wastewater … underground injection control wells — that is licensed and regulated by the state pursuant to a comprehensive and complex permit program.”

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