Federal Court Strikes Down Fayette Frack Waste Ban

Fayette County Courthouse

A federal judge has ruled that the Fayette County Commission does not have the right to ban frack waste. Last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia ruled in favor of EQT, a petroleum and gas corporation.

After years of public concern and protests of an underground injection well in Fayette County, the County Commission unanimously voted to ban frack waste in January of this year. This ordinance is based on state code WV §7-1-3kk, which gives authority to commissions to develop regulations to protect public health. Pittsburgh-based EQT protested the ban in court.

The company operates about 200 oil and gas wells in Fayette County, along with one underground injection control well.

Judge John Copenhaver ruled in favor of the company stating that state and federal law trump county ordinances. In his ruling, Copenhaver cited a 1999 decision in City of Huntington v. the State Water Commission, stating that “Public health is a matter of statewide rather than local or municipal interest or concern and in the regulation of public health the power of the state is supreme.”

The Fayette County Commission’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office hasn’t said whether or not the Commission will appeal the decision.