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West Virginia's motto as emblazoned on her State Seal  - "Montani Semper Liberi"  (Latin for "Mountaineers are Always Free") - captures the core constitutional point: Government - at any level - may not degrade, diminish or take certain inalienable individual rights without just cause. Even more concerning are the situations proliferating in the region whereby local governments are attempting to preempt federal and state regulation.  West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin - by Executive Order 04-11 - is attempting to balance regulatory concerns while maintaining and growing an industry that is fueling the region's economy and furthering energy independence for this great nation.

Summary of W.Va. Executive Order 04-11, July 12, 2011

On July 12, 2011, the Office of the Governor of West Virginia issued Executive Order No. 04-11, the goal of which is to encompass and regulate horizontal drilling and the development of the Marcellus Shale and other reservoirs that may be developed through unconventional methods and directing the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to take immediate actions as outlined in the Executive Order, including promulgation of emergency rules, to protect the public health, safety and welfare of our citizens.

The Executive Order recognizes the importance of the role natural resources in general and Marcellus Shale in particular play in the State's economy, including jobs creation and tax revenue, while also acknowledging the concerns of our citizens that the development of our natural resources must be performed in a manner that minimizes or eliminates the accidental spills of fluids used in the drilling and completion of wells in the Marcellus Shale, improper construction of production-related infrastructure and other possible environmental incidents.

The Executive Order outlines the steps to be taken by the WVDEP as follows:

1.    Affirms the WVDEP Memorandum dated July 30, 2010, which announced that the land application of any return fluids from completion activities in the Marcellus Shale formation is prohibited.
2.    Prohibit the disposal of return fluids from any gas well completed in the Marcellus Shale into any publicly-owned wastewater treatment plant, unless the WVDEP has approved such action in writing.

Read the full article on our website.

In the News
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Spilman Seeks to Overturn Anti-drilling Ordinance  

As published in Platts Gas Daily, June 28, 2011. Used with permission of Gas Daily Copyright´┐Ż 2011. All rights reserved.

A West Virginia-based drilling company has alleged in a lawsuit that the city of Morgantown violated the state's Constitution by enacting an ordinance that prohibits drilling for gas within a mile of the city limits.

In a suit filed last week with the Monongalia County Circuit Court, Northeast Natural Energy contended that only the state's Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to regulate drilling in the state. The two-year-old Charleston company wants the court to declare the ordinance "unconstitutional and unlawful," the suit said.

But if Morgantown should prevail, Northeast Natural attorney Jim Walls said Monday that the city "will have to pay Northeast a lot of money for the takings."

Read the full article on our website.


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Morgantown, W.Va. Ban on Marcellus Shale Drilling 


The city of Morgantown, W.Va. recently passed an ordinance banning deep, horizontal gas wells and hydraulic fracturing (both used in Marcellus Shale gas drilling) within a mile of its borders. For more information on the complex legal arguments involved in this case, click here.

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Wellsburg, W.Va. Ban on Natural Gas Drilling  


The city of Wellsburg, W.Va. has also recently banned natural gas drilling within one mile of its borders. City officials have stated that they would reconsider the ordinance if the city could be guaranteed protection from any possible problems. Click here to read more about the Wellsburg ban.


Jim Walls

Marcellus Shale Team Member

James A. Walls (Morgantown)

Jim has more than 20 years of experience representing energy clients in litigation and commercial matters, and he has tried numerous cases to verdict in state and federal courts in and around West Virginia. He is admitted to practice before all of the state and federal courts in West Virginia, as well as the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Ohio and the federal courts of appeal for the 3rd, 4th and 6th Circuits. Jim has been recognized by Chambers USA as one of "America's Leading Lawyers" for Litigation. He has also been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation, he was named a West Virginia "Super Lawyer," and he is a Fellow in the Litigation Council of America.  For more information, click here.


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Responsible Attorney: Michael J. Basile