“Science Facility” Described at Morgantown City Council Meeting

by Duane Nichols on February 18, 2022

An additional exit on I-79 would serve the M.I.P. Build an Exit and new companies will come.

Comment on Proposed “Science Facility” in Morgantown Industrial Park

To: Morgantown City Council, Tuesday, 2/15/22

My name is Duane Nichols, Coordinator for the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition. We have been concerned about the air quality in this region since the Longview coal fired power plant was proposed back in 2003. I’m here to talk about a proposal from the Marion Energy Partners, LLC. These are the same people at the same address as Northeast Natural Energy that has drilled one vertical well and four frack gas wells in the Morgantown Industrial Park (MIP).

[They call the well that is only vertical a “science well” because it was used for only research as part of a seven year ($25,000,000) project called the Marcellus Shale Energy & Environment Laboratory (MSEEL). What have we learned from this project that makes for a better environment? The answer is elusive.]

A ‘Science Facility’ has now been proposed that would burn excess frack gas from existing vertical+horizontal wells. The only justification provided thus far is that surplus frack gas exists so Northeast Natural Energy wants to burn it to make electricity. (Anyone can make their own electricity anytime and anywhere? But, what if you pollute the neighborhood or region and create other nuisances like noises, vapor plumes, truck traffic, etc.)

I need to tell you that because of the location in the valley, near the Caperton trail, the Deckers Creek Trail, the Westwood and Skyview schools and even residential Morgantown, this facility could generate serious health effects. It will be running 24 hours per day 365 days per year. There would be four large engines of 3,000 horsepower each. The exhaust stacks would only be 20 feet tall with essentially no monitoring of the pollutants.

I have talked to Glen Adrian, manager of the Industrial Park and to Mike John, CEO of Northeast Natural Energy as well as twice speaking before the County Commission. I went to Charleston and met with the Secretary of the WV-DEP. They all are unaware of the actual purpose and seem to be in a state of confusion. Any of these individuals could stop this project by publicly stating what is obvious to me. This project is unacceptable at this particular location. It could easily be moved to the Boggess pad or another of the Northeast Natural Energy locations, if they would only do it.

The window of time for the WV DEP to evaluate and grant a “final air permit” has been exhausted, but DEP is still working thru all the public comments received at the public hearing on January 11th. If a revised permit is released, there will then be a 30 day period open for appealing this permit to the WV Air Quality Board (AQB).

I am here today to recommend that the City of Morgantown consider making such an appeal, a rather straight forward process that is outlined on the AQB web-site. A number of reasons to appeal exist, given that the proposed facility may well become a substantial nuisance due to excess air pollution, on-going noises, toxic and hazardous chemical emissions, excess greenhouse gases and unsightly vapor plumes from the four stacks. (It would generate 55,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide.)

Here are a few of the responsibilities of the WV-DEP that they appear to have neglected: WV Code § 22-1-1, b-10, viz. “ To promote pollution prevention by encouraging reduction or elimination of pollutants at the source through process modification, material substitutions, in-process recycling, reduction of raw material use or other source reduction opportunities.” Moreover, this project appears to not be in the public interest.

Thank you for this opportunity to address the Morgantown City Council.

Duane Nichols, Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition (MVCAC)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paraphrasing EPA February 18, 2022 at 9:21 pm

Environmental Impacts of Electricity Generation

1. Electricity is a dynamic phenomenon in that it is consumed as it is generated, some consumed in the transmission and distribution wires, most is consumed to operate motors or heaters or lighting or make chemicals in batteries. The electricity is not stored in batteries, the chemicals are stored in batteries. So it makes no sense to generate electricity without a purpose.

2. Distributed generation can benefit the environment if its use reduces the amount of electricity that must be generated at centralized power plants, in turn can reduce the environmental impacts of centralized generation.

3. However, distributed generation has negative environmental impacts:

>> Distributed generation systems require a “footprint” (they take up space), and because they are located closer to the end-user, some distributed generation systems might be unpleasant to the eye or cause land-use concerns or public nuisances.

>> Distributed generation technologies that involve combustion—particularly burning fossil fuels—can produce many of the same types of impacts as larger fossil-fuel-fired power plants, such as air pollution. These impacts may be smaller in scale than the impacts from a large power plant, but may also be closer to populated areas.

>> Some distributed generation technologies, such as waste incineration, biomass combustion, and combined heat and power, may require water for steam generation or cooling.

>> Distributed generation systems that use combustion may be less efficient than centralized power plants due to efficiencies of scale.

>> Distributed energy technologies may cause some negative environmental issues at the end of their useful life when they are replaced or removed.


Brent Bailey February 20, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for bringing this into a public forum, Duane, and for requesting that the City Council consider an appeal on behalf of Morgantown. I’ll write Councilors and ask that they do that.


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