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Morgantown Residents Want Fracking Ban Decision Appealed

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Earlier this month, a Monongalia County, West Virginia judge overturned an ordinance seeking a ban on hydraulic fracturing—fracking—in or near Morgantown city limits. Now, some residents of Morgantown are seeking an appeal of the ban invalidation, said the State Journal.

“Your leadership on this issue is critical not just to Morgantown, but to the entire state,” said Kathleen Cash, leader of West Virginia for a Moratorium on Marcellus, said when she spoke before Morgantown City Council on August 16, urging them to appeal Monongalia County Circuit Judge Susan Tucker’s decision to overturn the city’s ordinance, reported the State Journal.

Fracking is the environmentally devastating process of shooting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals—often dangerous and carcinogenic—into shale to release natural gas. This ban, passed by the Morgantown City Council for wells within one mile of the city’s limits was the state’s third; similar bans were passed in Lewisburg and Wellsburg, said the State Journal.

This ban came after the state allowed Northeast Natural Energy to frack two gas wells in the Marcellus shale upstream of the drinking water intake that supplies some 90,000 residents in and near Morgantown, said the State Journal. At that time, residents advised the council that toxic frack flowback spills could contaminate the Monongahela River and contaminate drinking water. The Morgantown Utility Board worked for additional permit conditions with Northeast to protect the water supply; however, critics feel the move is lacking and residents are worried that, among other issues, air quality at a school and city are in danger with increased industry and truck traffic, said the State Journal.

Northeast sued to stop the ban and on August 12, Judge Tucker overturned the ban saying that it is the state’s responsibility to regulate oil and gas activities. Meanwhile, said the State Journal, Northeast is drilling its second well and is scheduled to begin fracking next month. The city has just four months to appeal the overturn with the state Supreme Court, said Brent Burton, Morgantown’s Assistant Staff Attorney.

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