The article below is from a story in The Morgantown Dominion Post on October 12, 2012 by David Beard.
THIS IS the first in a series of stories profiling the views of the candidates for West Virginia governor on a variety of issues: Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Republican Bill Maloney, Mountain Party’s Jesse Johnson and Libertarian David Moran.
Tomblin and Maloney previously faced off in October 2011, when Tomblin narrowly defeated Maloney in the special gubernatorial election. Tomblin had served as acting governor from November 2011, when Gov. Joe Manchin resigned to take a U.S. Senate seat. That special election was for an abbreviated 14-month term; this is for a full four years.
Maloney is a Morgantown businessman who entered the spotlight in 2010, using his drilling expertise to aid the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners. Johnson has run twice before for governor, in 2004 and 2008, and twice for U.S. Senate, in 2006 and 2010 — the special election that sent Manchin to Washington. Moran is a political newcomer. He operates a Preston County farm, raising sheep and alpaca, and is an adjunct WVU professor. A retired engineer, he worked for the U.S. Navy and was a professor at the Naval Academy.
The Dominion Post interviewed all four — in person or by email — on a variety of topics. Here are their answers on Marcellus shale drilling and fracking in West Virginia:
The future of fracking regulation
1. Earl Ray Tomblin, Democratic Party
The Legislature tried for three years to produce a bill and succeeded in December 2011 — the first such bill in the Appalachian basin. “I think we came a long way to get everybody where we’re at today. … I think the bill that we passed is working well now.”
Of course, not everyone was happy with all of it. “I’m willing to look if there’s particular areas [with] additional changed we need to make. … I would not anticipate a whole lot of changes to where we’re at now.” If there are particular concerns, he’s willing to work with the Legislature to address them.
2. Bill Maloney, Republican Party
“The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) can’t figure out what they’ve got on the books. I don’t think they want to change it again anytime soon. My initial reaction is we don’t need anything else. Everybody knows what the rules are; now let’s figure those out before we expand anything — make sure they’re working right.
“We want every advantage we can have and creating more regulation is not going to make it any easier to get investment in West Virginia. It’s a huge resource. We’ve got to maximize the use of it for the benefit of the state. … That’s what business needs is certainty; the uncertainty is the biggest drawback to investment.”
3. Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party
“I believe there needs to be a moratorium put in place right now until we know more about what we’re doing.” We’re not dealing with the evident problems: Surface owner rights, flowback frack water, scaling inside pipes, unprotected workers. “There are too many unanswered questions that need to be addressed.”
And while there is constant talk of economic boom, Wetzel County, the state epicenter of Marcellus drilling, has among the highest unemployment in the state [Wetzel’s July unemployment was the sixth highest].
4. David Moran, Libertarian Party
Additional legislation should include: “compensation to all property owners for energy extraction from under their property; bonding required from all energy extractors (drilling and fracking) with interest accrued as income to the State.
Please consult the Morgantown Dominion Post newspaper to see these responses in their hardcopy versions and to follow the series on the candidate’s responses to other topics.