Update From Morgantown City Council Meeting of March 22, 2022 ~ Part 1

by admin on March 24, 2022

Don Spencer

Comments on Various WV-DEP Permits for Morgantown Industrial Park

Presented by Don Spencer to Morgantown City Council, March 22, 2022

It was about this time of year back in 2011 when Mayor Selin and I were part of a group that went to visit the fracking industry development in western Monongalia County. A gas well with fracking was being planned for the Morgantown Industrial Park relatively close to the Mon River and the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) water intake for our drinking water located just downstream from the site.

Mayor Selin and I and most of the rest of the City Council at that time were determined to know more about what could happen if that well permit was approved. And so, we were joined that morning by a group which included a reporter from the Dominion Post to visit well sites, to ride the roads that the trucks traveled on, and to check out the transmission lines for the gas extraction.

There were problems with the drill sites and frack waste water that no risk manager would permit near the inlet for the water supply for over 100,000 people. The roads were broken up due to the weights of trucks carrying water to and from the drill sites – affecting school buses as well as people unfortunate to be living adjacent to those roads. And the compressor sites – which we did not know much about until we went on that tour – the sounds of the compressors dominated the valleys and surrounding areas – in a way that would be totally incompatible for residential areas of a city and incompatible for other businesses.

But the DEP reported that a permit for a well was pending for the Morgantown Industrial Park – located less than a half-mile from MUB and our city boundary! We could not believe it! MUB people had not been included in the permit review in Charleston. Our city and the City of Westover had not been included in the permit review in Charleston. It was as if nothing was important outside of the City of Charleston.

We found a provision in our state code which reads:

“Wherever the powers and authority granted in this chapter cannot be reasonably and efficiently exercised by confining the exercise thereof within the corporate limits of the municipality, the powers and authority of the municipality shall extend beyond the corporate limits to the extent necessary to the reasonably efficient exercise of such powers and authority within the corporate limits. Such powers and authority, unless otherwise provided in this code or elsewhere in law, shall not, however, extend more than one mile beyond the corporate limits, and such powers and authority shall not extend into the corporate limits of another municipality without the consent of the governing body thereof.” (WV Code § 8-12-19)

Now we are faced with a so-called ‘Science Facility’ in the same MIP. The details for permit #R13-3533 are not clear on what degree of air damage will result from this bitcoin installation. Nor is it clear what type of noise will result from the four 3,000+ horse power Catapillar engines which run the cooling system mentioned in the permit. Not only are these details missing for us. They were missing for the permit evaluation people in Charleston as well.

We in Morgantown know that there is an elementary school to protect. There are established business interests and jobs to protect. There is a water system to protect. There is a prominent hotel business plus residents to protect. And there are people across the airway in residential areas of First and Second Wards, especially, to protect – plus the teenagers from all over the city who attend Morgantown High School to protect.

I urge the City Council to petition the DEP Air Quality Branch to cancel or withdraw the permit which has been issued to Marion Energy Partners based on the provision established in the WV State Code 8.12.19.

>>> Don Spencer, Former Morgantown Councilman, Morgantown, WV


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