Following Wetzel County Tour, Concerned Pocahontas County Commission Writes WV DEP

by Nicole Good on October 1, 2011

Cranberry Glades, one of the many opportunities for recreation and part of the thriving tourism industry in Pocahontas County

As reported in a previous post, on September 22nd, Pocahontas County Commissioners traveled roughly four hours across the state of West Virginia for a five hour tour of the Chesapeake Energy gas fields of Wetzel County.

After speaking with landowners and visiting well sites and compressor stations, are the commissioners still concerned about the potential of shale gas drilling in their county? “Gravely”– according to the letter they sent Tuesday to the West Virginia DEP.  While Judge Susan Tucker ruled against the fracking ban in Morgantown on the grounds that the State has exclusive control over drilling, the Pocahontas County Commissioners see the reverse: that local rights should not be usurped by state government.  According to Commissioner Martin M. Saffer, the Pocahontas County Commission does “not believe it is right or proper for the Legislature to pre-empt our right to protect our citizens and to prevent a public nuisance.”

This issue of state regulation (adequate or no) versus the right of municipalities to enact local ordinances has also been a point of contention in Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Corbett has sidestepped a decision one way or the other as his administration prepares a Marcellus Shale agenda for release on Monday.

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