Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923)

Author: Justice Vandevanter

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Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923)

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

These are suits, one by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the other by the State of Ohio, to enjoin the State of West Virginia from enforcing an act passed by her legislature (Acts 1919, c. 71) which the complainants believe will largely curtail or cut off the supply of natural gas heretofore and now carried by pipelines from West Virginia into their territory and there sold and used for fuel and lighting purposes. Although distinct, the suits are so much alike that they have been presented at the bar substantially as a single case. They will be dealt with accordingly in this opinion.

The West Virginia act is set forth at length in the margin.{2} The complainants challenge its validity on the ground that it directly interferes with interstate commerce, and therefore contravenes the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States, and they rest their right to relief on the grounds that to enforce the act will subject them to irreparable injury in respect of many of their public institutions and governmental agencies, which long have been and now are using this gas, and will subject them to further and incalculable injury, in that (a) it will imperil the health and comfort of thousands of their people who use the gas in their homes and are largely dependent thereon, and (b) will halt or curtail many industries which seasonally use great quantities of the gas and wherein thousands of persons are employed and millions of taxable wealth are invested.

The conditions out of which the suits have arisen and the facts material to their disposal are as follows:

Natural gas is found at pronounced depths in porous strata -- usually sand rock -- constituting a natural reservoir, and is brought to the surface and reduced to possession through wells drilled into the containing strata. When a surface owner thus reduces it to possession, he becomes its owner, and it becomes a subject of commerce, like any product of the forest, field, or mine. In the inclosing strata, it is under great pressure, called rock pressure, which causes it to flow out rapidly when the strata are penetrated. If one surface owner drills wells and begins to draw off the gas, others desiring to exercise their common right must take the same course, for otherwise the gas under their lands may be drained out by those wells. After the gas is drawn from the inclosing strata, there is no practicable mode of storing and holding it. It must be used promptly. Its chief use consists in producing heat and light by burning it. The points of use generally are in centers of population or of industry more or less remote from the places of production. The intervening transmission is effected through pipelines. The normal rock pressure will carry the gas considerable distances, and when that pressure wanes or is inadequate, it can be supplemented by using compressors.

In West Virginia, the production of natural gas began as much as 30 years ago, and, for the last 14 years, has been greater than in any other state. The producing fields include 32 of her 55 counties. At first, the gas was produced only in the course of oil operations, was regarded as a nuisance, and was permitted to waste into the air. But it soon came to be regarded as valuable for heating and lighting, and the economy and convenience attending its use made it a preferred fuel. Its use within the state became relatively general, but was far less than the production, so the producers turned to neighboring states, notably Pennsylvania and Ohio, for a further market.

West Virginia sanctioned that effort. She permitted the formation under her laws of corporations for the purpose of constructing pipelines from her gas fields into other states and carrying gas into the latter and there selling it; she also permitted corporations of other states to come into her territory for that purpose, and she extended to all these companies the use of her power of eminent domain in acquiring rights of way for their pipelines. In no way did she then require, or assert any power to require, that consumers within her limits be preferred over consumers elsewhere. The effort to find a further market succeeded, and the gas came to be extensively carried into Pennsylvania as far as Pittsburgh, and into Ohio as far as Cleveland, Toledo, and Cincinnati. In that way, the entire production was made of value to the producers. Landowners and lessees in the gas fields were greatly benefited, and the taxable wealth of the state was largely increased. Approximately $300,000,000 were invested in the business -- fully one-half in West Virginia. More than 7,000 miles of the pipelines are in that state -- 2,000 miles being trunk lines.

Some of the pipelines reach from the producing fields to the areas of consumption in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Some connect at or near the state line with others leading to the consuming areas. All are so operated that there is a continuous flow of gas from points of production to points of use. Branch lines divert some of the gas at intervening points, but without changing the general flow. Several lines cross and recross the state boundary repeatedly.

The pipelines are all operated as public utilities -- that is, in supplying gas to the public -- and this is true in Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as in West Virginia. The lines long have been and now are supplying gas to the three states for use in their charitable, educational, and penal institutions, to their counties and municipalities for use in county, city, and school buildings, to local utilities serving particular communities, to the people generally in many cities and towns for use in their homes, places of business, and offices, and, in seasons when there is an adequate supply, to industrial plants for use in their operation. The predominant use is for fuel purposes; that for lighting being relatively small. All gas going into Pennsylvania and Ohio is carried and supplied under prior engagements respecting its disposal -- most of it under long-time contracts exacted or preferred by the purchasers or consumers.

Experience in other gas fields has shown that multiplied and prolonged drafts on the natural supply will exhaust it. Since 1916, it has been apparent that the older portions of the West Virginia fields are approaching exhaustion, and that production in those fields has reached and passed its maximum. The newer portions, however, in the judgment of informed operators, will make the fields commercially productive for several years more.

Latterly, during the colder months -- from November 1 to May 1 -- the combined needs of domestic and industrial consumers have been largely in excess of the production, and the pipeline companies generally have adopted and are pursuing the policy of preferring domestic consumers during those months. All the long-time contracts contain provisions admitting of such a preference. During other months, when there is little occasion for heating homes and offices, the needs of domestic consumers drop so materially that much gas may be and is supplied for industrial use without affecting the domestic use. But increased population, enlarged industry -- particularly in West Virginia -- and the advantages inhering in the gas as a fuel have finally resulted in a gross demand which cannot be satisfied even in the summer months. The present actual consumption is all that the production will sustain. The pipeline companies cannot supply more gas in West Virginia without cutting down what they carry into Pennsylvania and Ohio; nor can they carry more into Pennsylvania and Ohio without cutting down what they supply in West Virginia. In short, the situation is such that to constrain the companies to supply more gas in any one of the three states necessarily will constrain them to supply less in the other two.

In 1918, 265 billion cubic feet of gas were produced in West Virginia, 38 billion were consumed within the state without becoming available to the public, and 227 billion became available in the hands of the pipeline companies. The companies supplied 70 billion to consumers in the state, and carried 157 billion to consumers outside. They also brought 4 billion into the state from gas fields outside, and to that extent enlarged the amount supplied to local consumers. Of that amount, 21 billion went into domestic use and 53 billion into industrial use. The major part of the gas carried into Pennsylvania went to industrial consumers, and the major part of that carried into Ohio went to domestic consumers.

The gas carried outside the state is sold for more than that used therein, but this naturally would be so, considering the additional pipelines, compressors, and labor employed in the longer transmission. The proportion marketed beyond the state has not varied much. It now is practically what it was 10 years ago. Nor has there been any discrimination against consumers inside the state. They have been dealt with on the same plane as others. The companies have declined to quit the existing service to communities and consumers outside and to serve only those inside, but there is nothing invidious in this. It is in the line of fair treatment, rather than discrimination.

The gas carried into Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively, and there supplied to the state and her municipal agencies for strictly public use, is not negligible, but amounts to billions of cubic feet per year. It is the fuel with which food is cooked and water heated for thousands of dependents in charitable and penal institutions, with which hundreds of schoolhouses are heated and made comfortable for thousands of children, and with which municipal waterworks are operated in several cities, notably Cincinnati and Toledo. The heating and other appliances have been adjusted to its use, and to make the changes incident to substituting other fuel would involve an expenditure in each state of a very large sum of public money.

In Pennsylvania, the gas is used by 300,000 domestic consumers caring for 1,500,000 people, and in Ohio by 725,000 domestic consumers caring for 3,625,000 people. This is where no other natural gas service is available. To change to other fuel would require an adjustment of heating and cooking appliances at an average cost of more than $100 for each domestic consumer, or an aggregate cost exceeding $30,000,000 in Pennsylvania and $72,500,000 in Ohio.

The act whose enforcement is sought to be enjoined was passed by the Legislature of West Virginia February 10, 1919, and went into effect May 11th following.{3} These suits were brought eight days thereafter, by direction of the legislatures of the complainant states and by leave of this Court. Interlocutory injunctions were prayed and granted at the outset, and are still in force.

Three questions bearing on the propriety of entertaining the suits were raised soon after the suits were begun, and consideration of them was postponed to the final hearing.

The first question is whether the suits involve a justiciable controversy between states in the sense of the judiciary article of the Constitution. We are of opinion that they do, and that every element of such a controversy is present.

Each suit presents a direct issue between two states as to whether one may withdraw a natural product, a common subject of commercial dealings, from an established current of commerce moving into the territory of the other. The complainant state asserts, and the defendant state denies, that such a withdrawal is an interference with interstate commerce forbidden by the Constitution. This is essentially a judicial question. It concededly is so in suits between private parties, and, of course, its character is not different in a suit between states.

What is sought is not an abstract ruling on that question, but an injunction against such a withdrawal presently threatened and likely to be productive of great injury. The purpose to withdraw is shown in the enactment of the defendant state before set forth, and is about to be carried into effect by her officers acting in her name and at her command. The state is the principal, and the action of her officers rightly may be imputed to her even though a suit for an injunction might lie against them.

The attitude of the complainant states is not that of mere volunteers, attempting to vindicate the freedom of interstate commerce or to redress purely private grievances. Each sues to protect a two-fold interest -- one as the proprietor of various public institutions and schools whose supply of gas will be largely curtailed or cut off by the threatened interference with the interstate current, and the other as the representative of the consuming public whose supply will be similarly affected. Both interests are substantial, and both the threatened with serious injury.

Each state uses large amounts of the gas in her several institutions and schools -- the greater part in the discharge of duties which are relatively imperative. A break or cessation in the supply will embarrass her greatly in the discharge of those duties, and expose thousands of dependents and school children to serous discomfort, if not more. To substitute another form of fuel will involve very large public expenditures.

The private consumers in each state not only include most of the inhabitants of many urban communities, but constitute a substantial portion of the state’s population. Their health, comfort, and welfare are seriously jeopardized by the threatened withdrawal of the gas from the interstate stream. This is a matter of grave public concern in which the state, as the representative of the public, has an interest apart from that of the individuals affected. It is not merely a remote or ethical interest, but one which is immediate and recognized by law.

In principle, these views have full support in prior decisions, such as Missouri v. Illinois, 180 U.S. 208, 241; 200 U.S. 496, 518; Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U.S. 125, 141-143; 206 U.S. 46, 95-99; Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230, 237; New York v. New Jersey, 256 U.S. 296, 301, and Wyoming v. Colorado, 259 U.S. 419, 464. The defendant state relies on such cases as New Hampshire v. Louisiana, 108 U.S. 76; Louisiana v. Texas, 176 U.S. 1; Kansas v. United States, 204 U.S. 331; Oklahoma v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 220 U.S. 277, and Texas v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 258 U.S. 158, 162, but the facts on which they turned, as the opinions show, were so widely different from those here that they are not in point.

The second question is whether the suits were brought prematurely. They were brought a few days after the West Virginia act went into force. No order under it had been made by the Public Service Commission, nor had it been tested in actual practice. But this does not prove that the suits were premature. Of course, they were not so if it otherwise appeared that the act certainly would operate as the complainant states apprehended it would. One does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief. If the injury is certainly impending, that is enough.

Turning to the act, we find that, by its first section, it lays on every pipeline company a positive duty -- to the extent of its supply of gas produced in the state, whether produced by it or others -- to satisfy the needs, whether for domestic, industrial or other use, of all intending consumers, whether old or new, who are willing to pay for the gas and want it for use within the section of the state in which it is produced, in that through which it transported, or in that wherein it is supplied to others. This is a substantive provision whose terms are both direct and certain and to which immediate obedience is commanded. No order of the commission is required to give it precision or make it obligatory, and it leaves nothing to the discretion of those who are to enforce it. On the contrary, it prescribes a definite rule of conduct, and in itself puts the rule in force. It imposes an unconditional and mandatory duty, as counsel for the state admit, and obviously is intended to enforce a preferred recognition and satisfaction of the needs of consumers within the state, present and prospective, regardless of the effect on the interstate stream or on consumers outside the state.

The second section invests the commission with authority -- on finding after notice and hearing that a company supplying gas for local needs is or probably will be without an adequate supply for the purpose -- to order another company having gas in excess of what is required for its "consumers within this state" to furnish the company whose supply is or will be inadequate with gas to make up the deficiency, or, in the alternative, to undertake itself to supply such local needs "to the extent of such excess." This provision, like the first, shows the purpose to give local consumers, present and prospective, a preferred status and to permit surplus gas only to be carried into other states.

The fourth section empowers the commission to entertain complaints by persons aggrieved or affected by any "violation" of the act and to require that the violation be discontinued and the act obeyed, subject to a right of review in the courts, and also provides means of compelling obedience to the act pending the proceedings before the commission and until the decision on review.

Other sections contain penal and remedial provisions designed to make those just described effective. One in the fifth section declares that "every day" during which any company, or any of its officers, agents or employees,

shall fail to observe and comply with any order or direction of the commission, or to perform any duty enjoined by this act shall constitute a separate and distinct violation.

Another, in the sixth section, subjects any company violating the act to an action for damages by any one claiming to have been wronged by the violation.

We regard it as entirely clear that the act is intended to compel the retention within the State of whatever gas may be required to meet the local needs for all purposes, and that its procedural, penal, and remedial provisions are amply adequate to accomplish that result. And we think it equally clear from the allegations in the bills now established by the evidence that the situation when the suits were brought was such that the act directly and immediately would work a large curtailment of the volume of gas moving into the complainant states. Indeed, the conclusion is unavoidable that, with the increasing demand in West Virginia and the decreasing production, the act in a few years would work a practical cessation of the interstate stream.

It must be held therefore that the suits were not brought prematurely.

The third question is whether the requisite parties have been brought into the suits. It is objected that the pipeline companies have not been brought in. But there is nothing which makes their presence essential. The complainant states make no complaint and seek no relief against them. They are supplying gas in those states, and evidently will continue to do so, if not restrained or prevented by the defendant state. It is only with her that the complainant states are in controversy. It also is objected that the consumers in the defendant state who will be benefited if the act is enforced have no representation in the suits. But this is a misconception. They are represented by that state, and there is nothing in the situation requiring that they be specially represented or brought in. With equal basis it could be objected in a suit to prevent the enforcement of a statute reducing railroad freight rates, or in one to prevent the enforcement of a municipal ordinance reducing telephone or electric light rates, that shippers or users who would be benefited by the reduction must be specially represented or brought in. Such an objection would, of course, be untenable, and so of the objection here.

We turn now to the principal issue -- whether a state wherein natural gas is produced and is a recognized subject of commercial dealings may require that in its sale and disposal consumers in that state shall be accorded a preferred right of purchase over consumers in other states when the requirement necessarily will operate to withdraw a large volume of the gas from an established interstate current whereby it is supplied in other states to consumers there. Of course, in the last analysis, the question is whether the enforced withdrawal for the benefit of local consumers is such an interference with interstate commerce as is forbidden to a state by the Constitution. The question is an important one, for what one state may do, others may, and there are ten states from which natural gas is exported for consumption in other states. Besides, what may be done with one natural product may be done with others, and there are several states in which the earth yields products of great value which are carried into other states and there used. But notwithstanding the importance of the question, its solution is not difficult. The controlling principles have been settled by many adjudications -- some so closely in point that the discussion here may be relatively brief.

By the Constitution, Art. I, § 8, cl. 3, the power to regulate interstate commerce is expressly committed to Congress, and therefore impliedly forbidden to the states. The purpose in this is to protect commercial intercourse from invidious restraints, to prevent interference through conflicting or hostile state laws, and to insure uniformity in regulation. It means that, in the matter of interstate commerce, we are a single nation -- one and the same people. All the states have assented to it, all are alike bound by it, and all are equally protected by it. Even their power to lay and collect taxes, comprehensive and necessary as that power is, cannot be exerted in a way which involves a discrimination against such commerce. Ward v. Maryland, 12 Wall. 418, 430; Welton v. Missouri, 91 U.S. 275, 280; Webber v. Virginia, 103 U.S. 344, 350; Coe v. Errol, 116 U.S. 517, 525-526; Guy v. Baltimore, 100 U.S. 434, 442-443; Robbins v. Shelby Taxing District, 120 U.S. 489, 498.

Natural gas is a lawful article of commerce, and its transmission from one state to another for sale and consumption in the latter is interstate commerce. A state law, whether of the state where the gas is produced or that where it is to be sold, which by its necessary operation prevents, obstructs, or burdens such transmission is a regulation of interstate commerce -- a prohibited interference. West v. Kansas Natural Gas Co., 221 U.S. 229; Public Utilities Co. v. Landon, 249 U.S. 236, 245; United Fuel Gas Co. v. Hallanan, 257 U.S. 277; Dahnke-Walker Milling Co. v. Bondurant, 257 U.S. 282, 290-291; Lemke v. Farmers Grain Co., 258 U.S. 50; Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Foster, 247 U.S. 105; Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U.S. 313; Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U.S. 78. The West Virginia act is such a law. Its provisions and the conditions which must surround its operation are such that it necessarily and directly will compel the diversion to local consumers of a large and increasing part of the gas heretofore and now going to consumers in the complainant states, and therefore will work a serious interference with that commerce.

But it is urged that there are special considerations which take the act out of the general rule and sustain its validity even though there be an interference.

One of these is that the pipeline companies are engaged in supplying the gas to the public in West Virginia, that this is a quasi-public business, and that the act does no more than require the companies to furnish a reasonably adequate service within reasonable territorial limits. It is true that the business is of a quasi-public character, but it is so in Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as in West Virginia. The obligations inhering in it and the power to insist on an adequate service are the same in all three states. The supply of gas necessarily marks the extent of the service that can be rendered. Much of the business is interstate, and has grown up through a course of years. West Virginia encouraged and sanctioned the development of that part of the business, and has profited greatly by it. Her present effort, rightly understood, is to subordinate that part to the local business within her borders. In other words, it is, in effect, an attempt to regulate the interstate business to the advantage of the local consumers. But this she may not do. A direction to one of her railroads, when short of facilities for moving coal, to haul intrastate coal to the exclusion of interstate coal would not be different in kind or force.

Another consideration advanced to the same end is that the gas is a natural product of the state, and has become a necessity therein, that the supply is waning and no longer sufficient to satisfy local needs and be used abroad, and that the act is therefore a legitimate measure of conservation in the interest of the people of the state. If the situation be as stated, it affords no ground for the assumption by the state of power to regulate interstate commerce, which is what the act attempts to do. That power is lodged elsewhere. A contention in essence the same was presented and considered in West v. Kansas Natural Gas Co., 221 U.S. 229, a case involving the validity of an Oklahoma statute designed to accomplish the retention of natural gas within the state. In the district court, the case had been heard on bill and answer, a proceeding in which the allegations of fact in the answer are taken as true. The hearing resulted in a decree adjudging the statute invalid and enjoining its enforcement. The decree was affirmed here. In the answer, as the opinion shows, it was alleged that physical conditions made it apparent that the gas field was of relatively short duration, that cities were near the field, and their people needed the gas, that the state embodied only prairie land devoid of timber, and there was no local fuel supply excepting coal and natural gas, that the production of coal was growing rapidly more costly, that "substantially the only natural, practical, usable fuel, both for domestic and industrial use, is natural gas," and that, if pipelines such as the plaintiffs were intending to construct and put in operation were permitted to carry gas into other states, the supply would be speedily exhausted. Referring to these allegations and to a contention that the ruling principle of the statute was conservation of a needed natural resource, the Court said (p. 255):

The results of the contention repel its acceptance. Gas, when reduced to possession, is a commodity; it belongs to the owner of the land, and, when reduced to possession, is his individual property subject to sale by him, and may be a subject of intrastate commerce and interstate commerce. The statute of Oklahoma recognizes it to be a subject of intrastate commerce, but seeks to prohibit it from being the subject of interstate commerce, and this is the purpose of its conservation. In other words, the purpose of its conservation is in a sense commercial -- the business welfare of the state, as coal might be, or timber. Both of those products may be limited in amount, and the same consideration of the public welfare which would confine gas to the use of the inhabitants of a state would confine them to the inhabitants of the state. If the states have such power, a singular situation might result. Pennsylvania might keep its coal, the Northwest its timber, the mining states their minerals. And why may not the products of the field be brought within the principle? Thus enlarged, or without that enlargement, its influence on interstate commerce need not be pointed out. To what consequences does such power tend? If one state has it, all states have it; embargo may be retaliated by embargo, and commerce will be halted at state lines. And yet we have said that "in matters of foreign and interstate commerce, there are no state lines." In such commerce, instead of the states, a new power appears and a new welfare, a welfare which transcends that of any state. But rather let us say it is constituted of the welfare of all of the states, and that of each state is made the greater by a division of its resources, natural and created, with every other state, and those of every other state with it. This was the purpose, as it is the result, of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States. If there is to be a turning backward, it must be done by the authority of another instrumentality than a court.

Finally, it is urged that this Court cannot prescribe and execute regulations respecting the apportionment and use of the gas among the three states, and therefore that the bills should be dismissed. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. The object of the suits is not to obtain decretal regulations, but to enjoin the enforcement of the West Virginia act on the ground that it is an unconstitutional enactment and its intended enforcement will subject the complainant states to injury of serious magnitude. On full consideration, we reach the conclusion that the act is unconstitutional, that the apprehensions of the complainant states respecting the injury which will ensue from its enforcement are well founded, and that it obviously will operate most inequitably against those states. In this situation, the appropriate decree is one declaring the act invalid and enjoining its enforcement. To dismiss the bills and leave the act to be enforced would be quite inadmissible. If there be need for regulating the interstate commerce involved, the regulation should be sought from the body in whom the power resides.

Decrees for complainants.

1. After the first argument, the Court, on January 9, 1922, ordered the cases restored to the docket for reargument with special reference to the questions whether the suit was not prematurely brought and and whether the bill presents a cause justiciable between the two states parties to the action. See 257 U.S. 620. After reargument, the cases were again, on November 13, 1922, restored to the docket for reargument before a full bench.

2. The act was passed February 10, 1919, went into effect May 11, 1919, and reads as follows:

Section 1. That every person engaged in furnishing, or required by law (whether statutory or common law) to furnish, natural gas for public use, or for the use of the public, or any part of the public, whether for domestic, industrial or other consumption, within this state, shall to the extent of his supply of said gas produced in this state (whether produced by such person or by any other person), furnish for public use within the territory of this state, and for the use of the public and every part of the public within the territory of this state, in or from which such gas is produced, or through which said gas is transported, or which is served by such person, a supply of natural gas reasonably adequate for the purposes, whether domestic, industrial, or otherwise, for which natural gas is consumed or desired to be consumed by the public or any part of the public within said territory in this state, and for which said consumer or consumers therein shall apply and be ready and willing to make payment at lawful rates.

Sec. 2. That, in case any person engaged in furnishing, or required by law (whether statutory or common law) to furnish, natural gas for public use within this state, or for the use of the public or any part of the public within this state, shall have a production or supply of natural gas which is or probably will be insufficient to furnish for such use (for the purposes, whether domestic, industrial or otherwise, for which natural gas is consumed by the public or any part of the public) within the territory in this state served by such person, then and in that event, the public service commission shall have authority, and the same is hereby conferred on it, upon the application of any such person or any of his consumers within this state and after due hearing upon notice and proof to the satisfaction of the commission that public convenience and necessity so require, to order any other person engaged in furnishing or required by law (whether statutory or common law) to furnish natural gas for public use within this state, and producing or furnishing natural gas for public use in said territory or transporting the same through said territory, to furnish to such person having such in sufficient production or supply, natural gas for the purpose of supplying such deficiency at and during such times, upon and at such just and reasonable terms, conditions, and rates, and in such amounts, as the commission shall prescribe. And whenever, after such hearing upon notice and proof, the commission shall determine that public convenience and necessity so require, the commission shall have authority to provide for and compel the establishment of a reasonable physical connection or connections between the lines, pipes, or conduits of such person having such excess supply of gas and the lines, pipes, or conduits of the person having such deficiency of supply, and to require the laying and construction of such reasonable extensions of lines, pipes or conduits as may be necessary for the establishment of such physical connection or connections, and to ascertain, determine, and fix the just and reasonable terms and conditions of such connection or connections, including just and reasonable rules and regulations and provisions for the payment of the costs and expense of making the same or for the apportionment of such cost and expense as may appear just and reasonable: Provided, however, that no person shall, by virtue of this section, be ordered to furnish natural gas to any other person so engaged in furnishing, or required by law to furnish, natural gas for public use except to the extent that the person so ordered to furnish natural gas shall at the time have a production or supply of natural gas in excess of the quantity sufficient to furnish a reasonably adequate supply to his consumers within the state; nor shall any person, by virtue of this section, be ordered to furnish natural gas to any other person so engaged in furnishing or required by law to furnish natural gas for public use in a territory within the state if and when the said person having said excess shall, to the extent of such excess, be ready and willing to furnish, and within such time as the commission shall prescribe shall actually furnish, to the consumers within said territory a reasonably adequate supply of natural gas.

Sec. 3. That, insofar as the same shall not be in conflict with this act, all of the authority, powers, jurisdiction, and duties conferred and imposed on the public service commission by the act entitled "An act to create a public service commission and to prescribe its powers and duties, and to prescribe penalties for the violations of the provisions of this act," passed February twenty-first, one thousand nine hundred and thirteen, as amended by the act entitled, "An act to amend and reenact sections one, two, three, four, five, nine, ten, fourteen, fifteen, and twenty-two of chapter nine of the Acts of one thousand nine hundred and thirteen, creating a public service commission, prescribing its powers and duties, and penalties for violation of the provisions of said chapter, and to add thereto six sections to be known as sections twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, enlarging the powers and duties of said public service commission, prescribing additional penalties, and giving to the commission power to punish for contempt," passed February tenth, one thousand nine hundred and fifteen, are hereby conferred and imposed on the public service commission in respect to the subject matter of this act, or any other part thereof.

Sec. 4. That, in case of violation of any provision of this act, any person aggrieved or affected thereby may complain thereof to the public service commission in like manner, and thereupon such procedure shall be had as is provided in respect to other complaints to or before said commission, and all such proceedings and remedies may be taken or had for the enforcement or review of the order or orders of said commission, and for the punishment of the violation of such order or orders, as are provided by law in respect to other orders of said commission. In case of the violation of any provision of this act, the public service commission, or any person aggrieved or affected by such violation, in his own name, may apply to any court of competent jurisdiction by a bill for injunction, petition for writ of mandamus or other appropriate action, suit, or proceeding to compel obedience to and compliance with this act, or to prevent the violation of this act, or any provision thereof, pending the proceedings before said commission, and thereafter, until final determination of any action, suit or proceeding for the enforcement or review of the final order of said commission, and such court shall have jurisdiction to grant the appropriate order, judgment or decree in the premises.

Sec. 5. That, if any person subject to the provisions of this act shall fail or refuse to comply with any requirement of the commission hereunder, such person shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars for each offense, and such person, or the officers of the corporation, where such person is a corporation, may be indicted for their failure to comply with any requirement of the commission under the provisions of this act, and upon conviction thereof, may be fined not to exceed five hundred dollars, and in the discretion of the court, confined in jail not to exceed thirty days. Every day during which any person, or any officer, agent or employee of such person shall fail to observe and comply with any order or direction of the commission or to perform any duty enjoined by this act shall constitute a separate and distinct violation of such order or direction of this act, as the case may be.

Sec. 6. That any person claiming to be damaged by any violation of this act may bring suit in his own behalf for the recovery of the damage from the person or persons so violating the same in any circuit court having jurisdiction. In any such action, the court may compel the attendance of the person or persons against whom said action is brought, or any officer, director, agent, or employee of such person or persons, as a witness, and also require the production of all books, papers, and documents which may be useful as evidence, and in the trial thereof such witness may be compelled to testify, but any such witness shall not be prosecuted for any offense concerning which he is compelled hereunder to testify.

Sec. 7. That the word "person" within the meaning of this act shall be construed to mean and to include persons, firms, and corporations.

Sec. 8. That the sections, provisions, and clauses of this act shall be deemed separable each from the other, and also in respect to the persons, firms, corporations, and consumers mentioned therein or affected thereby, and if any separable part of this act be or be held to be unconstitutional or for any reason invalid or unenforceable, the remaining parts thereof shall be and remain in full force and effect.

Sec. 9. That all acts and parts of acts in conflict with this act are hereby repealed.

3. Under the state constitution, the act went into effect on the expiration of 90 days after its "passage" by the legislature, as distinguished from its approval by the Governor. State v. Mounts, 36 W.Va. 179.


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Title: Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923)

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Chicago: Vandevanter, "Vandevanter, J., Lead Opinion," Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923) in 262 U.S. 553 262 U.S. 582–262 U.S. 600. Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2022,

MLA: Vandevanter. "Vandevanter, J., Lead Opinion." Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923), in 262 U.S. 553, pp. 262 U.S. 582–262 U.S. 600. Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Vandevanter, 'Vandevanter, J., Lead Opinion' in Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923). cited in 1923, 262 U.S. 553, pp.262 U.S. 582–262 U.S. 600. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2022, from