Activists Picket Marcellus Conference at The Greenbrier
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Read it here: the New concept of Fossil Fuel. Ooops! I meant Fossil Fool.
Fossil fools are those who would sell out a sustainable clean energy future in order to serve the fossil fuel industry. Political leaders who epitomize this concept include Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin.
To raise awareness, citizens from the WV Sierra Club, Eight Rivers Council, Pocahontas Nature Club, Greenbrier River Watershed Association, WV Environmental Council, WV Highlands Conservancy, and Christians for the Mountains traveled from Monongalia, Preston, Pocahontas, Roane, and Greenbrier Counties to picket The Greenbrier during the first day of The Marcellus and Utica Shale Conference and Expo 2012.
This pro-industry conference blatantly announced its focus as profits over people. Notice the language in the conference promotion: “Navigating Regulatory and Environmental Landscapes Towards Making a Profit.” Not “Understanding How to Comply with Regulations and Protect the Environment” but “navigating” as in steering the ship to avoid obstacles, i.e. regulations and environmental protections.
Citizens prepared skits, banners, and chanting to greet Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin, who were featured speakers. One major focal point was the number of campaign contributions from polluters.
Campaign finance records show that Governor Tomblin accepted $2,000 from EQT, $3,616 from Chesapeake, and $10,000 from Waco Oil & Gas. The oil and gas sector alone donated over $21,000 to Tomblin during the special election campaign last year. And just weeks after the election, Tomblin gutted proposed legislation to regulate gas drilling.
After months of meetings and public hearings, the WV Legislature’s Select Committee on Marcellus had proposed a compromise bill, but major sections were dropped by Tomblin in December. Among the needed protections dropped or weakened by Tomblin were requirements for regulating air emissions, public notice requirements, stringent rules for karst areas, drilling waste disposal, and setbacks for homes, streams or drinking water supplies.
“The Marcellus boom in the natural gas industry is a perfect example of why we have an economic crisis, why our economy is broken,” said Beth Little of Eight Rivers Council in Pocahontas County. “Not only is the price of natural gas (at $2.12 per million BTUs on March 31, 2012) way below the cost of production, but when you factor in the costs of suffering — the health problems, lost property values, loss of productive farmland, and destruction of natural resources like clean water — you see that the people making money from it are stealing from the rest of us, from our future, from our children and grandchildren. The value of the energy produced does not begin to equal the value of what we are losing.”
While the gas industry conference was the primary target, oil and coal industry contributions were also criticized. Governor Tomblin received over $163,000 from all fossil fuel industry sectors combined, and even more from lawyers and lobbyists, many of whom represent fossil fuel industries, according to campaign finance reports from FollowtheMoney.org
The vast majority of coal mining and electric utility contributors was from out of state, or worked for out-of-state companies.
Senator Manchin also received numerous contributions from fossil fuel industries for his 2012 election campaign. According to reports at OpenSecrets.org
, Manchin has received over $896,000 from fossil-fuel-related industries. He led every other member of the US Senate in campaign contributions from coal mining and from electric utilities. Better regulations are needed to solve many of these problems and to begin transition from fossil fuels.
Governor Tomblin and Senator Manchin (AKA Chuck Wyrostock and Jim Sconyers) put in an appearance at the protest.
“We know that America cannot switch off fossil fuels immediately, but we are calling on our elected officials to begin the transition away from fossil fuels, not keep promoting increased development. It is no longer acceptable to ignore climate change if you want to be an elected leader,” said Jim Kotcon, Chair of the WV Chapter Energy Committee. “And WV needs a Moratorium on Marcellus permits until the regulations and enforcement programs are in place to do it safely. Every well permit that is issued without adequate provisions is a well that we know won’t be done right. Let’s stop issuing bad permits until we know we get it right. Other states and countries are doing this, why not West Virginia?”