Tomblin Opposes Permit Moratorium

by Dee Fulton on March 18, 2011

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has reacted to the press conference today at which Delegates Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) and Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) presented a letter signed by 19 WV delegates calling for a cessation on issuing new drilling permits.  Tomblin is opposed to any moratorium.  He reasserted his faith that the WVDEP can adequately deal with the impacts of the shale gas industry.  “The (West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection) is ready to implement emergency environmental laws — drilling laws and so forth — to address that problem,” he said “And I think it would be a mistake to do any sort of moratorium at this time.”
Full story here.

Tomblin has requested that the WVDEP receive an additional $2 million in funding in this budget cycle to hire more inspectors.  According to Pam Nixon, WVDEP Environmental Advocate, that would allow hiring 8-10 more inspectors.  Currently there are 13 inspectors and 4 unfilled positions.   In case you haven’t heard yet, the Oil and Gas Division is already responsible for oversight of 55,000 conventional gas wells in West Virginia, 6,000 or so unplugged wells, 13,ooo orphaned wells, and the 900-3000 per year permitted horizontal wells. How many wells must each inspector cover?  Do the math.

What kind of power does WVDEP have to implement new protections?  Can it require setbacks of gas wells of more than 200′ from homes, drinking water supply wells and waterways?  Can it require that pit liners be removed and hauled to toxic waste facilities rather than being buried on site which has a very good chance of leading to contamination of ground water?   Can it require accountability for disposal of wastewater so that the chances of another criminal assault to the environment and safe drinking water such as occurred in the Allan’s Waste Water Services case will be minimized?   We’ll be seeking those answers, but not with a great deal of optimism.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Susan March 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm

A Feb 9th article in the The Intelligencer, Wheeling News-Register states:
“The DEP bill limits this requirement to 100 feet from a water well, and does not specifically address a limit for drilling wells near buildings.”
Existing law requires 200 feet – we’re going backwards.

“Another key difference in the bills is that the DEP’s version contains a provision to allow “forced pooling.” This practice, which currently is illegal, would be regulated by the proposed Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Forced pooling would allow natural gas drillers to use land that they have not leased for drilling purposes. For example, if all the neighbors have signed leases with a particular drilling company but a property owner refuses, that lone property owner may be forced to allow the land to be used by gas drillers for the development of the neighbors’ gas.”

USE LAND THEY HAVE NOT LEASED FOR DRILLING PURPOSES. Does this mean horizontally drilling under the land or actually operating on the surface?

“We spent nine months drafting our bill,” he (Randy Huffman, Secretary, WV Department of Environmental Protection) said, noting he took into account the interests of the drilling industry, property owners and state officials in considering how to craft the bill.

Does anyone have a link they can post to the language of the WVDEP’s proposed legislation?

cited article:—Gas-Staff.htm


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