WV Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Chief Logan State Park Gas Appe
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by Chapter Energy Committee |
So now we have to litigate all the way to the state Supreme Court to get the lower courts to follow laws that are already on the state's books!
By a unanimous 5–0 vote, the West Virginia Supreme Court has decided to hear our appeal of a lower court’s ruling that would have allowed gas field development in Chief Logan State Park.
Gas in parks prohibited by law
The WV Department of Environmental Protection had refused to issue a permit to drill gas wells and develop roads, pipelines, etc. in Chief Logan State Park. This decision was overturned in Logan County Court, and the WVDEP was ordered to issue the permits.
WV Sierra Club and allies, along with the WV Department of Natural Resources and the WV Department of Environmental Protection, appealed the county court decision to the WV Supreme Court.
In March, the Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal. WV Sierra Club and the other parties to the appeal will be able to provide further information and testimony to bolster their argument that West Virginia law does, and should prohibit extraction of minerals, such as oil and gas, in the state parks.
Chief Logan precedent “tip of the iceberg”
Chief Logan is a popular, well-used state park, and gas drilling and development have no place there. In addition, the final decision on Chief Logan could have far-reaching implications for all of the parks in the West Virginia state park system. An adverse ruling on Chief Logan would set a precedent that could conceivably open all the other West Virginia State Parks to gas, oil, and other inappropriate development. If the Chief Logan domino were to fall, we could very well see similar park degradation at Twin Falls, Blackwater Falls, Holly River, and other of our citizens’ gorgeous “crown jewels,” which our state parks surely are.
On the other hand, a favorable ruling at the Court would set exactly the opposite precedent. It would affirm the legal protection already on the books in state law. Not only would Chief Logan be protected from these inappropriate developments. The decision would have the effect of serving notice that all of our state parks are for the scenic and recreational enjoyment of our citizens, free of industrial blight that enriches a corporate bottom line while degrading the peoples’ finest natural landscapes.
No date at the Supreme Court has been set yet. It is not expected until at least this fall.