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Northeast Natural Energy v. Morgantown,

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20269
Nos. No. 11-C-411, (W. Va. Cir. Ct., 08/12/2011)

A West Virginia court overturned a city's ordinance banning the hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus shale. The city, characterizing the hydraulic fracturing process as a nuisance, argued that it has the authority to enact and enforce the ordinance pursuant to the rights given to the city by the "Home Rule" provisions of the West Virginia Constitution. But the state's interest in oil and gas development and production as set forth in the West Virginia Code provides for the exclusive control of this area of law to be within the hands of the state environmental agency. Moreover, the agency's regulations do not provide any exception or latitude to permit the city to impose a complete ban on fracking or to regulate oil and gas development and production. Because the city's ordinance encroaches upon the state's all encompassing authority regarding the production and development of oil and gas resources, the ordinance is preempted by state law.