A West Virginia state judge ruled Friday that Morgantown’s municipal ban on fracking violates state law [PDF]. Morgantown, in enacting the ban, had argued that its home rule authority granted it the ability to stop drilling within its jurisdiction. In granting summary judgment to Northeast Energy, the court held that the comprehensive legislative and regulatory scheme promulgated by the state fully and exclusively occupies the field of oil and gas regulation and that the ban was essentially an ultra vires act by the municipality. The court noted that while it was mindful of environmental issues related to drilling, it was confident these were being comprehensively addressed by the state. The ruling is important not only for Northeast’s ability to drill under its permits, but for other drilling companies (both in West Virginia and other states) facing similar bans (and legal arguments [PDF]). It also reinforces the central, comprehensive role states have long played in regulating the oil and gas industry.