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Morgantown City Council Passes Marcellus Shale Resolution
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by John Christensen, WVEC Lobbyist | 2009

To protect our water resources, the Morgantown City Council ask our West Virginia legislature to adopt stricter standards and emergency measures.

In order to express major concern over the possible hazards to water supplies due to drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale, the Morgantown City Council adopted a comprehensive resolution calling for the Legislature to adopt stricter standards and “emergency measures” to prevent water contamination resulting from that activity. The resolution also asks for the Legislature “to petition Congressional leaders to amend the (2004) federal Safe Drinking Water Act” which “exempts hazardous chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing – even diesel fuel – from limitation.”

Citing the completion of three public forums with over 50 organizations attending and the fact that there are approximately 40 municipal water systems and 20 waste water systems which depend on the sufficient quality and quantities of the upper Monongahela River water for drinking supplies and for numerous commercial, transportation, power generation, and recreation investment uses, the council felt a public need to act strongly.

The three page resolution addressed the hazards of the 300-odd chemical compounds used in the fracturing process developed by the Halliburton Corporation in which a pressurized brine solution is injected along with one to six million gallons of water for each well to explain their heightened response for safety.

The resolution cited increasing reports of water contamination relating to gas well sites and drilling processes, and singled out the WV DEP for not having regulatory guidelines nor a comprehensive plan to address water source protections, composition of fracturing fluids, TDS/brine levels or requirements relating to the disposal of fracturing solutions in West Virginia waters.

The City Council recognized the vital natural “capital” of a safe, environmentally sound and economically sustaining water supply for Morgantown and surrounding communities as being paramount in their considerations and they identified other states like NY, PA., CO, and NM that have already taken the necessary steps to limit or control the potentially hazardous impacts of natural gas drilling.

The resolution asks “emergency measures” be instituted during this legislative session to require the DEP to protect the water supplies until permanent legislation is activated. The water quantity and quality issues arising from the drilling of Marcellus shale gas wells are priority issues for the West Virginia Environmental Council.

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