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Heroes and Heroines: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
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by Chuck Wyrostok, Outreach Coordinator | 2011

Marcellus Shale gas drilling goes un-regulated in West Virginia, but not without the hard work of a good number of our state legislators.

“In my opinion it takes four things to sustain life: fresh clean water, fresh clean air, fresh clean nutrients, and a good paying job; without these four things life as this great country and state is supposed to offer all of us does not exist.”
State Senator Orphy Klempa (D-Ohio) in support of regulation at our Marcellus press conference at the Capitol

Before the dust had settled at the end of the Legislative session at midnight on March 12, it was obvious that a lot of legislators had not listened to Senator Klempa and we were witnessing a massive failure of government. The biggest issue of the session had been sidelined and had become the proverbial elephant in the room. The labors of a number of dedicated Delegates and Senators had gone for naught. It is here that we express our gratitude for their courage and persistence.

Who were the ones that stood out and toiled as if the citizens actually mattered? Some may surprise you. Some did more than others. Let’s take a look.

First, the Republicans — yes, you read correctly. Here’s a sampling: Thanks go to Sen. Clark Barnes (R-Randolph) for offering an amendment to eliminate the hiring of inspectors by the industry-biased examining board and make new inspectors civil service workers like all inspectors. And to Del. Rick Snuffer (R-Raleigh) for offering his environmentally friendly amendment requiring the closed loop system for reusing Marcellus wastewater.

BIG thanks go to all the members of House Judiciary Subcommittee A for their groundwork on the bill. They were assigned to hash out details on Marcellus and spent many hours working to draft a strong, comprehensive bill.

Del. John Frazier (D-Mercer), chair of the subcommittee, handily moved the bill along. Del. Mike Caputo (D-Marion), instrumental in moving the bill out of the joint Interim committee in January, was a strong supporter throughout. Other Subcommittee members were Delegates Larry Barker (D-Boone), John Ellem (R-Wood), Michael Ferro (D-Marshall), Bill Hamilton (R-Upshur), Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie), Barbara Evans Fleischauer (DMonongalia), Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha), Linda Longstreth (D-Marion), Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor), Harold Michael (D-Hardy), Carol Miller (R-Cabell), and John Pino (D-Fayette).

Del. Tim Manchin (D-Marion), who deserves accolades for being a strong voice for Marcellus legislation all along, served as a non-voting member of the subcommittee.

They pulled off a solid bipartisan effort, with both Democrats and Republicans offering amendments to strengthen the bill. We watched as they constructed this vehicle, this piece of work that made so much sense. Our hopes were high. It was almost too good to be true. In the end, it turned out to be just that.

Our appreciation to Del. Tim Miley (D-Harrison), the House Judiciary Chair. The bill would not have gotten as far as it did if not for him. And to Sen. Ron Miller (D-Greenbrier) for his ill-fated but valiant attempt to get a moratorium on drilling in fragile karst geology ... thank you.

And now ... taking their bows at the end, after all the other cast members leave the stage, are the two stars in this political tragedy, the ones who did the heavy lifting and never retreated from the fight: Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) and Del. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) worked tirelessly, were not dismayed by the resistance they faced, and carried the fight on until the clock ran out. It is for their devotion, creativity, and persistence that we owe them our special thanks.

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