Delegates Press DEP for Moratorium on Marcellus Permits
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Many of our legislators understand the problems, the question is whether the West Virginia DEP does!
On 18 March 2011, more than 20 members of the WV House of Delegates sent a letter to DEP Secretary Randy Huffman requesting that he use his emergency powers to stop issuing new permits until the drilling industry is properly regulated.
The legislature’s failure to pass an effective bill to regulate Marcellus Shale drilling led the group of legislators to call for a moratorium on new drilling permits until regulations are in place that protect property owners and the environment and ensure adequate inspection staffing and enforcement. Even though the DEP only has 15 inspectors to oversee 59,000 active gas wells, the agency has already issued over 900 permits for drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Since West Virginia’s drilling laws have not been updated in more than 30 years, they have not kept up with new technologies being used to develop the Marcellus Shale. These technologies include horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing which cause large increases in surface disturbance, water use, and waste disposal. This shortfall is in addition to the many problems with the drilling and plugging of conventional wells that need to be addressed.
Several of the legislators who signed on are among those who worked the hardest to pass a strong comprehensive bill. During a recent press conference, Del. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) said, “No one wants to put a stranglehold on the oil and gas industry.” However, he and the other delegates (Democrat and Republican) see a moratorium on new Marcellus permits as the only logical course of action.
The delegates who signed the request are:
Delegates Anthony Barill (D-Monongalia), Larry Barker (D-Boone), Bonnie Brown (D-Kanawha), Ray Canterbury (R-Greenbrier), John Doyle (D-Jefferson), Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Nancy Guthrie (D-Kanawha), Bobbie Hatfield (D-Kanawha), Linda Longstreth (DMarion), Virginia Mahan (D-Summers), Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor), Dale Martin (D-Putnam), Clif Moore (D-McDowell), Don Perdue (D-Wayne), Dan Poling (D-Wood), Mary Poling (D-Barbour), Ruth Rowan (R-Hampshire), Roger Romine (R-Tyler), Pete Sigler (R-Nicholas), Rick Snuffer (R-Raleigh), Margaret Staggers (D-Fayette), Joe Talbott (D-Webster) and Danny Wells (D-Kanawha).