WV Senate Bill #508 is a Kick in the Face to Local Residents

by S. Tom Bond on February 8, 2016

Drilling/Fracking Related Activities Can Hurt You

There is Now a Dangerous Bill in the WV Legislature

Essay by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor and Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

Senate Bill 508, now in the Committees on the Judiciary of the West Virginia Legislature, introduced February 4, is a real stinker. It attempts to limit the common law definition of nuisance suit to fit the needs of the extraction industries.

Coal is a walking corpse, producing lots of money for a very few and a few jobs, is on the way down. Its waste condemns it to “least desirable” position among familiar fuels, and, in spite of what little regulation the State forces on it, converts thousands of acres of West Virginia to wasteland each year. At least three major coal companies are bankrupt.

Unconventional gas and oil drilling are wobbling like a drunken sailor. At best it is a “transition fuel” to renewable sources of energy, and money has been spent, and continues to be spent, like the sailor did while becoming drunk. People in the discovery and production end of the business enjoy bright hope, but have high cost of production, transportation and liquefaction, and ignore huge supplies near the big markets, Europe and China.

It is clear some of the state legislators want to reduce cost of extraction by transferring damage done by frackers and strippers to the rural folks living in and near these sacrifice zones. They can’t conceive of any way to improve life in West Virginia other than knuckling down to coal, oil and gas interests, and this new initiative is about the only advantage they can confer, since laws and enforcement are already so favorable to those interests.

That is the background for SB 508. What it does is to revise the definition of nuisance suit about out of existence. If you can meet the requirements of this bill, you would be able to make an ordinary damage suit, in most cases. The bill reads, in part “No person may bring an action for private nuisance unless proper evidence of physical property damage or bodily injury caused by the substantial and unreasonable interference exists.” So, witnesses don’t count. (You hillbillies aren’t reliable, even to judge your neighbor’s loss.)

Another noxious definition requires “…the activity involve(s) more than a slight inconvenience or petty annoyance and instead involve a real and appreciable invasion of that private use and enjoyment” (A little bit doesn’t count … how much is required?) The real kicker, though, is “For purposes of this section, an interference with the private use and enjoyment of another’s land is unreasonable when the gravity of the harm outweighs the social value of the activity alleged to cause the harm.” (Give up all hope ye who enter here.)
 How much “social value” does your life have, when it is contested by a corporation’s $500 an hour lawyers?

It goes on from that. It is clear the intent is to convert anyone with a WV state drilling & fracking permit to a lilywhite transgressor, with greased armor, that no claim can stick to. This thing needs to be stopped now!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Celtic Frau February 9, 2016 at 12:18 am

It is clear some of the state legislators want to reduce the cost of extraction by transferring damage done by gas drillers and strip miners to the rural folks living in and near these sacrifice zones.  I would guess most legislators can afford to live in an area unaffected by such activity.  But not everyone has that option, or the desire, ability and funds to move.  Can you imagine working your entire life, settling down in your home to finally retire, only to have your neighbor  allow a well pad on the border of your property?  600 feet from your home? 
Residents of our state deserve protection from outside multimillion dollar corporations.  What SB508 does is to revise the definition of a nuisance suit almost out of existence. 

This bill favors corporations over middle class and poor West Virginia Citizens. 

Please ask legislators to vote NO on SB508.
Nancy B. of Upshur County, West Virginia


Rose Maark March 15, 2016 at 11:20 am

I was unaware of SB508 until last weekend and feel that it is unfair to WV residents. I was made aware of it when I complained to our city officials about the noise level in my part of the city and was told there was nothing that could be done on the city level and to check into this bill.

I live in the part of Weirton called Marland Hts., which overlooks the Ohio River and the industrial part of the city called Half Moon. There is an extremely annoying noise that comes from there (I don’t know which industry) day and night. It is a constant loud, droning noise and along with that is a shrill noise that sounds like the sound of drilling into rock.

Over about the last year these noises have gotten longer lasting (day and night) and louder. Of course, it is worse at night since you don’t have the other sounds of the daytime to tone it down. I have asked a few of my neighbors if it affects them with a definite YES response. We can’t open our windows because of the disturbance of this noise to the point that it disturbs our sleep.

As I am sure you know, sleep is very important to your health in many ways. Blood pressure, stress, heart to name a few. Why should we have to endure this danger to our health and inconvenience to our lives to benefit these industries? This bill is ridiculous.

Businesses have to clean up emissions and air quality; so why should these industries get away with the freedom to create noises to the level that it is unhealthy to us. Also, why isn’t the public more aware that this bill was in proposal?

Please ask our legislators to vote a hearty ‘NO’ to SB508.

Rose Mark of Hancock County, WV
3540 Brightway St., Weirton, WV 26072


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