Call for Moratorium on Marcellus Drilling Permits in Lewis County

by S. Tom Bond on October 16, 2012

Stonewall Jackson Lake

On Monday, October 15th, representatives of three local organizations addressed the Lewis County Commission, asking for a moratorium until seven conditions outlined by the Sierra Club and ten other state-wide organizations could be met:  The conditions are:

1. No new permits should be issued until DEP inspections of drilling operations and gas wells become mandatory. The WV-DEP must determine the number of active wells that an inspector can effectively oversee and limit the number of permits issued to the corresponding number of inspectors on staff.

… these conditions are listed in the FrackCheckWV post of October 14th …

7. No new permits should be issued until West Virginia citizens are guaranteed a permanent replacement if their source of clean water becomes contaminated at any time within 1 mile of a natural gas drilling operation unless another source of pollution can be proven.

Myra Bonhague-Hale spoke first, representing the Sierra Club. She said the conditions were an “important step toward regulation of an industry which threatens to undermine our lifestyle and poison our water, air and land.” She pointed out that the Pocahontas County Commission had already backed the moratorium. Various activities around the state have shown citizen concern for the effect of shale drilling.

Tom Bond, representing Guardians of the West Fork, spoke second. He said there must be two Marcellus shales. The one presented by the drillers sounds like Snow White and the one seen by people in the drilling area looks like The Wicked Witch of the West. Claims for economic benefits never include such things as property devaluation, sick people, and loss of aquifers. Hunting and fishing are affected, and timber, recreation, farming and small local industries are hurt.

John Cobb spoke next. He emphasized the intensity of the industry, with many installations and occupation of much land. He also talked about how the natural beauty and rural character of Lewis County is being altered. [Let us hope that the Stonewall Jackson Resort and Lake can be protected and preserved.]

The commissioners listened politely, that’s all.  No response.  There are numerous gas drilling-related companies that have offices or facilities in or near Jane Lew and Weston, so a moratorium is not likely in Lewis county currently.

If state and local government could and would benefit from these activities, the county would be prosperous. There is no change from the old days, after the glass industry left. Recently, a new company purchase 37 acres in the industrial park. The plans for this acreage have not been announced.

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