Letter of Concern to WV-DEP and the WV Governor

by S. Tom Bond on February 18, 2017

Open Letter to Gov. Jim Justice and DEP Sec. Austin Caperton

TO: Jim Justice & Austin Caperton. From: Tom Bond, Lewis County
How is the air down there in Charleston?  Still clean?  Do you plan to move out into the country near some of the new Marcellus drilling industry?  Maybe near a compressor station with eleven of those big engines, roaring and belching 24 hours a day?
Or perhaps near a well pad where there is 24 hour light and noise and chemicals and diesel smoke with lots of PM-2.5 coming out the exhaust.  Particulate matter 2.5 microns or less is now known as a cause of Alzheimer’s-like effects, you know.  Going to bring along your grandchildren and your Mom along?   Families like that live out here, and the young and the old are particularly susceptible to toxic chemicals, smoke, fumes, and dust.
Maybe you are like the famous story on Rex Tillerson, who has inflicted that kind of misery on many thousands of people? Then he complained when a water tower to enable fracking was erected in sight of his own piece of earth.
Do you think those who drink water without the taste of chlorine shouldn’t complain when their well is poisoned with a complex mixture of water slickers, detergents, and anti-oxidants, antibacterial compounds, and God-only-knows what else?  Maybe they deserve car-busting roads and interminable delays when they use public roads too? 
I can see you demurring all the way from here. I think that you are like Rex Tillerson, the ultimate not-in-my-back-yard guy!
So you are going to govern the state for all the people.  For all the people of West Virginia – like John J. Cornwell was governing West Virginia for all the people, including the miners, at the time of the battle of Matewan? Oh yes!  Those corporations provided good living for officers and investors, but not miners.  It’s been like that since the beginning of the State.  Wealth carried off, mostly north and east, but occasionally to build a motel in Florida.
So I’m being a little hard on you. You are just doing it to bring jobs, jobs, jobs, you say?  You do realize gas and oil extraction are capital intensive and labor weak, don’t you?  That once the drilling is done by those fellows brought in from elsewhere, they will go away and leave few permanent jobs? You certainly know several companies are developing automated drilling, so drilling labor will go the way of coal labor, too.
Oh yes!  Obama killed coal the fable says.  You really know better than that, don’t you?  Coal companies, going to more mechanization, especially long wall and surface mining that can use huge equipment, killed coal jobs.  That Obama fable was a tool, using prejudice and diversion of the truth, to affect voters who were slow to catch on.
What moral code do you have that allows collateral damage to rural residents in peacetime to profit private industry? Forget for the moment all the externalized costs, the true cost of the extraction, the damage to other industries, global warming, destruction of surface value for farming and timber, recreation and hunting.  What justifies forest destruction, land disturbances, public annoyances, and public health for fossil fuel extraction? Especially when last year 39% of new electrical capacity was solar and 29% was wind power.  (Coal has been showing a decrease for the last two years.)  No CO2 from the renewable resources!
How do you decide people are unworthy of protection?  Simply because of rural residence?  Those who can’t afford to move elsewhere, or too attached to the family plot? 
Hey guys, people out here are probably more astute than you think. Some of us don’t think very far ahead, and few are articulate, but, given time, it all becomes too clear.
West Virginia has the highest rate at losing population in the nation.  We have the lowest ratio of employment to employable people in the nation.  College kids have been heading for the door, and so are a lot of high school grads.
Is corrupting the environment and allowing the wealth of our State to be carted off by favored industries your best game? That is the past, present (and future?) of Almost Heaven! Us country folks keep hoping for better!
An eighth generation West Virginian
S. Thomas Bond, Jane Lew, WV

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

joe perebzak February 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

Tom, you are right.

Politicians don’t live where we do so they ignore how people’s lives are being destroyed.

They and most Americans don’t live at ground zero for drilling and compressor stations.

They think local people are working on these sites. But that is not so because our county, Noble County here in Ohio, has had the second highest unemployment in Ohio.

The energy companies and the politicians are the ones who benefit from this the most.

Joe Perebzak in Eastern Ohio


Mary Wildfire February 19, 2017 at 11:18 am

Dear Tom,

I like this letter to the Governor and to the head of the WV-DEP.

BUT, it won’t do any good going to the named targets. You need to post it more widely, make it an open letter to the public in general.

The voters are primary and the Legislature is supposed to make laws and help establish regulations.

We all have a responsibility to see that the public health and the environment are protected!

Keep up the good work!

Mary Wildfire


Betty Wiley February 19, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Good letter, Tom Bond! 

You hit the nail right on the head!

The Governor and the head of the WV-DEP have a
responsibility to protect us, but let’s not let the
State Legislature off the hook!

Betty Wiley, Monongalia County


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