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By Jeremy A. Mercer and Cecil C. Kuhne, IIIa
On August 22, 2011, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ("WVDEP")-pursuant to Governor Ray Tomblin's Executive Order 4-11, issued July 12, 2011- promulgated emergency rules related to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (see July 29, 2011, Fulbright Litigation Briefing "West Virginia Executive Order Regulates Drilling in the Marcellus Shale").
The new emergency rules concern permitting requirements and operational procedures of horizontal wells, requiring operators to provide extensive information and follow new regulations for those wells. Some of the information required by and regulations to be enforced under the new rules relate to erosion and sediment control, site construction and safety, well construction and casing, and water management in certain circumstances. The new rules also require operators to follow certain operational rules to protect water quality and quantity and to provide public notice before drilling a first horizontal Marcellus Shale well on any pad located within a municipality, as that term is defined by statute. According to news reports, the West Virginia Secretary of State still must approve the rules before they become effective, after which they will remain in effect for 15 months.
More, specifically, the new WVDEP rule:
The WVDEP emergency rule is a timely one. On August 12, 2011, Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Susan Tucker invalidated Morgantown, West Virginia's ban on Marcellus shale gas drilling in the city and its environs on the grounds that the ordinance was preempted by the state's comprehensive regulatory scheme (see August 16, 2011, Fulbright Litigation Briefing "Morgantown City Ban On Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Overturned").
Review the rules on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection website.
This article was prepared by Jeremy A. Mercer (firstname.lastname@example.org or 724 416 0440) and Cecil C. Kuhne III (email@example.com or 214 855 8122) from Fulbright's Litigation Department.
Learn more about Fulbright's Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force at www.fulbright.com/shale.
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