Marcellus reforms not on W.Va. Democrats’ agenda
From the Article by Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette, January 8, 2014
When West Virginia lawmakers more than two years ago approved Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Horizontal Drilling Act, they included requirements for a wide variety of studies. Follow-up reports were to look at water pollution, impoundment safety, air pollution, noise and economic impact.
Well, those studies are in, and they’ve shown clearly that more is needed if West Virginians are to be protected as the Marcellus Shale boom continues in our State (see the original article for specific references).
Most troubling has been the fact that Commerce Department officials continue to flaunt a legal requirement that they report publicly on the number of Marcellus workers who are actually from West Virginia, as opposed to out-of-state employees of drilling companies. If that weren’t enough, an interim meeting earlier this week highlighted the fact that some of the key research on potential water quality impacts of Marcellus waste disposal didn’t even study wastes from the Marcellus.
But if you’re looking for something to do while we wait for Gov. Tomblin’s State of the State address this evening, read through the House Democratic leadership’s agenda — and try to find where any of these pressing issues about the Marcellus boom are addressed.
North Central WV Democracy for America:
WV House Speaker Tim Miley Speaks
At a breakfast sponsored by The Harrison Co. Chamber of Commerce, speaking about the WV $250-$300 million revenue shortfall, and the possibility of increased taxes on the gas industry, WV House Speaker, Tim Miley is quoted in the 01/04/14 Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram: “I do not anticipate, nor would I support, an increase in the natural gas severance tax. My concern is this: I don’t want to do anything as a legislative body to impede natural gas expansion in West Virginia.”
As a possible effort to keep the gas industry and COC campaign endorsements and donations flowing, the legislators attending “across the board, the lawmakers said they would not support such a measure.”
Proposed bill aims to manage water resources
Delegate: Draft adds drilled wells
From the Article by David Beard, Morgantown Dominion Post, January 8, 2014
CHARLESTON — An interim committee originated a bill Tuesday intended to promote management of the state’s water resources and ultimately aid economic development. The draft bill, to be introduced after the session begins, comes from the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources. It amends the Water Resources Protection Act.
Committee co-chairman and chief author Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, told The Dominion Post it marks the third and final step in a process: The state claimed surface and groundwaters, inventoried them, and now adopts a plan to manage them. Many neighboring states are drying out, Unger said, while “West Virginia is blessed with abundant water resources.” This plan would not only serve the environment, but can ultimately leverage business opportunities by drawing water-dependent industries here, to our well-managed and plentiful supply.
While the water use of the natural gas industry immediately comes to mind, Unger said the bill and the plan can apply to any industry that uses a lot of water. Co-chairman Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, agreed with Unger’s thoughts and said he’s encouraged by these proposals to improve water monitoring. He’s been concerned for a long time about the possibility of extracting large amounts of groundwater depleting the supply. “By improving the monitoring of these wells, it can give us a better idea of the impact that may be occurring, or not occurring,” he said.
>>> The bill’s provisions: It changes the definition of a “large quantity user” from one that withdraws more than 750,000 gallons per calendar month to one that withdraws more than 300,000 gallons in any 30-day period. It adds wells drilled in support of horizontal well operations to the list of commercial wells. Delegate Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, proposed this amendment, and won unanimous approval.
>>> It requires annual registry with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for every large quantity user. Drilling contractors must report depth to groundwater on their drilling reports to the DEP. It adopts the state Water Resources Management Plan — a bound document about 3 inches thick that’s been in the works for several years. It tightens the reporting requirements for large quantity users’ water withdrawals.
Committee attorney Jay Lazell told members that code requires that any monthly withdrawal that results from altering a location or intake site and varies plus or minus 10 percent of an established baseline average to be reported. The bill requires an exact amount, with an annual report of monthly withdrawals. The DEP must report annually to the commission on its implementation of the Management Plan.