Environmental Groups Call for Marcellus Drilling Moratorium
click for print view
Environmental groups from across West Virginia are calling for a moratorium on permits for natural gas drilling in West Virginia. The call was issued at a press conference in Charleston on Sep. 11, with eleven groups joining the call. Since then, more groups and the Pocahontas County Commission have joined the call for a moratorium.
Seven conditions were proposed that should be met before new permits are issued, including mandatory well inspections, ground water protections, air pollution monitoring and control, and recognition of the rights of counties and local communities to protect their citizens.
The statement said that legislation adopted in December 2011 “was grossly inadequate, and does not provide the basic protections needed by West Virginia citizens. Yet permits for new wells continue to be issued, leaving landowners and local citizens helpless to stop the dangers in their neighborhoods.”
“We can’t let the gas industry wreck more West Virginians’ homes and lives” said Jim Sconyers, Chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club and the lead sponsor of the statement. “Too many horror stories are occurring. Natural gas development can be done right, but today, it is being done wrong, and that needs to stop. Right Now!”
“Fracking is science without conscience, short sighted, bloated on greed, its executors revealing the essence of cognitive dissonance,” said Dr. Cyla Allison, of Pocahontas County and President of Eight Rivers Council. “Fracking steals irreplaceable water and substitutes poison.”
Jim Kotcon speaks at press conference at state capitol.
Examples of problems from around the region included toxic dust problems in Doddridge County, air pollution that sickened nearby residents, explosions at gas well sites, pressurized gases in well water, and the unwillingness of state regulatory agencies to enforce rules or respond to complaints.
“The Friends of the Cacapon River support the protection of the water, land and air across the state of West Virginia,” said Linda Kjeldgaard of Friends of the Cacapon River, in Great Cacapon WV. “Without adequate regulation we feel that the most precious natural resources are at risk of being lost to future generations. Proper regulation of the natural gas industry is the duty of our State.”
Signatories included Sierra Club, WV Highlands Con-servancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Environmental Council, Friends of the Cacapon River, Chris-tians for the Mountains, Eight Rivers Council, Greenbrier River Water Association, SaveTheWaterTable.org, Coal River Mountain Watch, Doddridge County Watershed Association, and West Virginians For a Moratorium On Marcellus (WV4MoM). The statement was delivered to Governor Tomblin and key legislators who were at the Capitol for interim meetings.
What You Can Do!
1. Ask your group to support the Moratorium. This can include local garden clubs, hunting and fishing groups, church organizations, or other civic entities.
2. Ask your local city council or county commission to issue a resolution of support for a moratorium.
3. Talk to local state Delegates and WV State Senators. Tell them that every permit issued is flawed, they all lack air pollution monitoring, protections for ground water, and there is a general lack of inspectors and enforcement. Find out if they support continued issuance of these flawed permits, or if they will support a moratorium until the Legislature can fill in the gaps in the current regulatory program