Morrisey Threatens Lawsuit Against Maryland To Protect West Virginia’s Economic Growth

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed willingness to sue neighboring Maryland if its leaders continue to limit West Virginia’s access to the Potomac River, a water source critical to economic expansion in the Eastern Panhandle.
The Attorney General outlined his concerns this week in a letter addressed to Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Secretary of the Environment Benjamin H. Grumbles.
The letter challenges Maryland’s time-consuming and costly permit process arguing the Mountain State’s neighbor has no legal authority to interfere with West Virginia’s access to the Potomac River.
“It is fundamentally unfair for Maryland to claim regulatory authority to tilt the competitive balance in its favor by limiting West Virginia’s access to basic utilities like water,” Attorney General Morrisey writes. “It is also unlawful.”
The letter comes at a time when rapid population growth and commercial development is projected to increase the Eastern Panhandle’s daily demand for water by 2 million gallons.
For instance, a Proctor and Gamble plant under construction in Martinsburg, by itself, will require 1.3 million gallons each day to maintain operations. Its success will spur other companies to consider locating in the Eastern Panhandle, creating additional jobs and increasing residential demand for water.
The letter cites as legal authority a 1785 compact between Maryland and Virginia, which gave Virginia a sovereign right to the Potomac’s water. The U.S. Supreme Court has suggested that West Virginia, which has a common history with Virginia, is entitled to the same rights under the 231-year-old compact.
Maryland’s leadership has 21 days to agree that its agencies lack authority to regulate West Virginia’s use of the Potomac and agree to work with West Virginia in drafting an interstate compact for submission to the U.S. Congress.
Otherwise, the letter states West Virginia will file an original action with the U.S. Supreme Court to seek a declaration of its rights to the Potomac River.
Copies of the letter were sent to governors for West Virginia and Maryland. Read a copy of at

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