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Environmental Concerns Go Unanswered at WVU
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by Joseph P. James, WVU Sierra Student Coalition | 2012

The new WVU SSC Pres gets 'stonewalled' by fellow students!

I am an environmentally concerned student at WVU who has recently received an increasing number of questions from my peers concerning the water quality issues that accompany the hydraulic fracturing process used to harvest shale gas. As a voice for these students, I took their questions and concerns to the Student Government Association (SGA) this past semester. I asked the SGA to seek a statement from WVU on where the university stands on drilling for shale gas on university property and on safety precautions that the university will take to protect Morgantown, and the state, from water contamination.

WVU SSC President Joseph James
New WVU SSC President Joseph James with Larry Gibson of the Keepers of the Mountain Foundation
I was told by the SGA that it is not their place to ask the administration about this “complex” and “layered” issue. I received an email from SGA president, Jason Bailey, stating “he would look into the issue and he appreciated my comments.” I was frustrated that my own student government would not take my questions and concerns to the administration and that these very serious issues had only milked generic responses.
Water quality is a large issue that has the potential to build up and break down metropolitan populations. WVU, as a public institution, has the obligation to supply the student body, as well as the employees, with clean and adequate water on campus. Recently, high levels of bromide were found in the Monongahela, and it is thought to be possibly caused by Marcellus shale drilling. Bromide when mixed with water-treatment additives becomes brominated trihalomethanes, which have been linked to severe birth defects and even cancer. Everyone on campus should be concerned, including student government and the administration.
This semester, WVU’s Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) will begin its campaign to have people’s questions and concerns answered. We plan to do so by working closely with the office of sustainability and hosting speakers on campus to bring to light issues that the university typically overlooks. Positive changes begin through education, and this semester the SSC is going to work to bring about those changes.

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