Monday, January 31, 2011

Mental spirituality

The pony express got a little stuck in the snow, so the "Sunday Morning Gospel Hour" is a day late. But since today is coincidentally my late father's birthday, 21 years after he started watching over me from the other side of the veil, I'd like to dedicate this column to him. -MH

It’s the second installment of the Independent’s “Sunday Morning Gospel Hour,” and much to my surprise, it turns out to be Round 2 of the Hindu vs. Radical Pantheist Turborama (I find unradical pantheism a little stodgy for my taste)—again featuring this week’s guest of honor, for a return engagement—my highly honored and deeply loved yoga teacher and spiritual mentor of many incarnations, Swami Ramachandrananda (Swami Rama to you non-Sanskrit types)—versus the world’s foremost living radical pantheist (and I hereby issue my pro forma Scots-Irish dare to anyone to challenge me), yours truly.

The reason I’m surprised to be writing about yoga class again is because, by the second week of the Sunday morning program here (actually Sunday night, by this point—people may think me a slacker, but it was an extra long Saturday), I think it’s kind of rude of me not to be talking about the many different varieties of Christians living around me here in these West Virginia hills—especially since they make up the majority of the people in Hampshire County (though the New Agers are a mushrooming movement—so to speak).

I realized as soon as I became a columnist at the Hampshire Review in 1996 that, even though I had been writing about politics since I was in grammar school, and had spent my childhood fascinated particularly by two books—an illustrated book of Bible stories, and “The History of America in Pictures”—I had not dug into the roots of either religion or politics enough to comfortably address the fundamentalist savages that I, a merely daffy progressive missionary, had come to convert.

See, there’s no surly wilderness in the universe an angel walks by weak-kneed that I won’t tread right into, wearing my foolish grin—if I think the cause is right and just and necessary. I know who God protects, besides little children (though She apparently has had a lot of other things on her mind, seeing how little children suffer lately; but I think the negligence is more because Her own adult children, feeling subconsciously threatened by their own growing and unsustainable numbers, are doing too much hoarding. There are some real psychopaths out there, too—their victims being the kids gone ruthlessly wild in Africa, terrified as youngsters into becoming drug-crazed, heavily-armed guerillas).

But it was my dive into the subterranean bowels of Western thought, in preparation for writing the Review column, that led me to the final path of my long journey from Christianity to pantheism—a “religion” (if you can call it that) in which everything is divine—and for that goad that lightened the path, I will be (in a way that only pantheists and a few mystics know) eternally grateful.

Where Christianity really went off the path that Jesus taught—Jesus of Nazareth, the enlightened “son of man” (as they like to say in ancient Aramaic, still spoken in areas of southern Syria)— is when Paul mixed his ruling class collaborator’s Hellenistic mumbo-jumbo in with an already pluralistic Hebrew mysticism, both to buttress his sense of self-importance, and to entertain his fellow Roman citizen plutocrats at their high-class parties (now there was a catty fellow, Saul of Tarsus, his secret most likely sniffed out by Bishop Shelby Spong—a terrifying read for any staunchly Christian man repressing hidden longings).

Paul’s magical transformation of the simple message of loving God and loving neighbor into a hybrid mystery cult was followed by the knockout punch—Constantine’s appropriation of the up-and-coming messianic social order, to stage a second coming for a dying Roman Empire.

It worked. The brutal and cunning Constantine, who slit the throats of several loved ones to maintain his power, transformed the Empire into Christianity. And there have been few outbursts of freedom in that faith ever since. They are usually suppressed (like the Albigensians, for example) in the piously bloodthirsty manner that the first official Christian emperor would dispassionately approve of.

Ah, but Constantine, although a ruthlessly efficient imperial bureaucrat, was fooled—as bureaucrats frequently are by prophets. Because Jesus of Nazareth had planted seeds of love in his followers that keep returning like perennial flowers in every generation. And the seeds of love that Jesus planted in their forebears’ hearts keep blossoming in the hearts of the Christian children who live around here, including the most radical fundamentalist pups. That’s something the secular humanists I often hang around with have trouble understanding—which is too bad for them, really. They’re missing out. A pure and open heart can find love anywhere, because, as every radical pantheist knows, love is all around us.

(You can see why I get nervous if I have to speak extemporaneously. I think I have the most parenthetical mind of anyone I’ve ever met. I can turn a half-hour lecture into an all-nighter, if I don’t have a prepared something or other. Here I wasn’t supposed to be talking about Christians, yet have parenthesized away half the Gospel Hour on that very subject. But let’s return to where we started: the Hindu v. pantheist faceoff, floating twenty feet higher than Romney’s Main Street in the balcony of the public library, every Saturday morning at ten.)


Monday morning now—for those who think of pre-dawn darkness as morning. Actually, before I get back to what happened in yoga class (which is more interesting than funny, anyway), let me tell you something funny (parenthetical as clockwork; didn’t I tell you?).

The reason I know the Swami and I have been matching wits for God knows how many incarnations in our friendly little mystical dance kind of way, is that I first met him in my dreams many years before I met him in the flesh. Of course we’ve known each other for millennia. I think we both knew that the first time I shook his soft, strong, welcoming hand. He’s like my cats sometimes—all we have to do is look into each other’s eyes to communicate volumes.

Anyway, back in dreamland…I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I’m thinking I was still chasing tight, attractively-patched bell-bottoms, when the Swami tapped me on the shoulder in my dream to wonder how I’d strayed so far from the path. I mean that metaphorically, of course. What he actually did was just change the dream channel, and suddenly I was in one of my early nocturnal subconscious flying lessons, and crashing into everything. And my flying teacher in the dream, this short Indian guy with a long beard, was totally exasperated with my clumsiness, and I was ashamed—not to get too Freudian about it, but the same way I sometimes felt with my Dad growing up.

Any American male should recognize this phenomenon. It’s one of the ways patriarchy programs killers.

The dream was so vivid, it lived like a gargoyle on my shoulder ever since. So you can imagine how freaked I was the first time I saw this Indian guy with a long beard walking around this hillbilly burg. You know—what the you-know-what is that guy doing here? I immediately triggered my then-primitive intelligence network to find out who it was—which was easy, because most of my friends were fellow progressive pioneers in the red-state outlands, and a number of them had studied yoga with him.

(This is funny about the Swami, but maybe I’m getting it wrong. It may result in some extra difficult poses next Saturday, performed extra fast, but I don’t care, because it’s too funny to pass up. But every time I see him walking around town, he always looks like he’s in a fog. On the other hand, maybe that’s just an Easterner’s idea of awareness, and he’s just trying to avoid another one of my absurdist questions; I’m always trying to foil his inscrutability. Like I say, I could be wrong. Another game of parenthesis, anyone?)

Well, I was always worried about the meaning of that dream, and not long after we made our meat puppet acquaintance, I felt compelled to ask the Swami about it. He just laughed and said not to worry, that it was no big deal—which, as you can imagine, came as a great relief. But here’s the funny thing—the dream was exactly right. It’s an exact picture of our present relationship, because he always gets all cross with me if I try to say I can’t do something. And having passed my Druid finals, I can just laugh it off now, knowing he’s right. Sometimes my thighs get sore.

I don’t get too uppity, though, if you can believe that. He may be a short squat Indian dude, and me a six-foot plus European crusader, lithe and muscled as a lion, but I never forget who’s Yoda and who’s Luke. Who wants to spend their last moments in life watching their dripping heart close up, as it gasps its dying beats? Not me, buddy. Of course, I don’t think he really has that much of a temper.

Hey Zeus Krisp Toes, look at the time! (Is that blasphemy? It’s been so long since I was a Christian, I forget.) Some of the congregation are starting to slip sideways out the back, and I haven’t even started on the meat of the matter—a phrase in rare use in the lands where sacred cows drink and munch their vegetables.

Anyway, we were taking one of our occasional breaks from our alternative nostril breathing, and sitting around having one of our little cosmological tete-a-tetes, this time about whether the archetypal nature of the universe was allegorical or mythological. As a Hindu, he naturally prefers “allegory,” because, let’s face it, if there’s a world religion with more deities crammed into Oneness than Hinduism, I don’t know what it is (naturally, I’m excluding the infinite numbers of angels so crowded onto the pinhead dance floor they start getting into fights in the Aquinian demi-pantheon—which helps explain why the Enlightenment philosophers were so long-winded. Look who’s talking). I, being a Westerner, prefer “mythology” as my penultimate reality—but then, like most Westerners, I’ve always been a romantic.

So we’re sitting there casually chatting and all of a sudden the Ra man (as I like to tease him sometimes about our Egyptian incarnation) lights up like a human light bulb. Now this kind of thing is somewhat unusual for the Swami--who’s admittedly more focused than I am because he doesn’t have glaucoma like I do, and doesn’t ordinarily get distracted by the ever-present parenthetical swarm I have to deal with. But what had occurred to him was actually related to what we were talking about, and not parenthetical at all. So I had to quit my brief plan to file it away for some later tactical rhetorical advantage.

He craftily tied his new topic directly to what we’d been talking about before, the archetypal world, by stating the obvious: mind, just as the sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce was quite clear about, is the mechanism by which spirit works its will in physical reality.

And if you want a paradigm shift—which is what humanity needs if we are to save ourselves from destroying our own home planet, and living through the next brutally Hobbesian century watching our grandchildrens’ eyes grow ever colder as aging wisdom brings them to the gut-wrenching truth of what final opportunity we have squandered—you’re going to have to move out of your old way of thinking, and start changing, in your mind.

--Michael Hasty

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fracking reality video

A new video from the gas Drilling Awareness Coalition. It starts off showing you the industry PR, then shows the reality of gas drilling.

--Submitted by Brent Walls

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In the beginning

A hot-off-the-presses HCIN bulletin:

Greetings from the Hampshire County Independent Network.

First the big news: Yesterday, Hampshire County Commissioner Steve Slonaker introduced a motion at the county commission meeting to adopt the resolution drafted by HCIN, to establish the Hampshire County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee. You’ll find the resolution’s draft text at the end of this email.

The name was cut-and-pasted from a similar committee created nine months ago in Garrett County MD, whose pioneering effort did a great deal to assure our commissioners that this is the exactly right thing to do. Commission president Bob Hott had already shown his great concern about the recent introduction of the process of hydraulic fracture in Hampshire County by attending HCIN’s “Gasland” screening last week, and we knew from our conversations with them that the other commissioners were equally concerned about the many unanswered questions surrounding this practice.

The only thing that kept the resolution from being adopted on the spot was the ever-conscientious nature of Commissioner Dave Parker, who wanted the county prosecutor to make sure that the language was legally convoluted enough to pass muster. So the motion was tabled until the next county commission meeting, and unless the gas industry can come up with enough money to buy off Bob Hott—highly unlikely with a man of that integrity—I’m confident the resolution will be passed on February 8th.

The trying-not-to-let-them-get-a-word-in-edgewise presentation was done by yours truly, with the truly substantive information coming from Brent Walls of Potomac Riverkeeper, who did such a great job conducting the question and answer session after we showed “Gasland” last week, and HCIN’s in-house expert on the natural gas issue, Jim Dodgins, who riveted the commissioners’ attention with his account of the strange things that happened to his water well, when the first fracked gas well in Hampshire County was being drilled nearby. Anyone who wants a thorough understanding of what this issue means to this county can do no better than reading Jim’s articles on the subject in the Hampshire Independent.

Besides the list of distinguished citizens we had suggested who might reflect the broad range of stakeholder interests that should be represented on the committee, I think what may have sealed the deal was the far-off look the commissioners got in their eyes when I told them that no one else in the state was doing what they were considering. We pointed out that this could be a model that leads the way to a pragmatic solution to the largely-uninformed public panic that sometimes results when the Halliburton fracking team comes to town (did you know, there is what is known as the “Halliburton loophole” from the Clean Water Act, which exempts companies from having to report what specific toxic chemicals they are leaving like so much garbage in the earth—meaning over half of the millions of gallons they inject?). It’s my observation that a sense of leadership is the inspiration that drives many people to seek public office, and if you want people to do something, give them something they already want to do.

I don’t have to tell you we’re beaming pretty brightly at HCIN. We have our crack staff of 100 monkeys typing furiously and randomly 24/7, right here in the basement at HCIN headquarters. There’s no bedtime for Bonzo here! And just as the laws of probability indicate, every once in awhile they produce something mildly acceptable to a government agency. We couldn’t be prouder of our slightly more hairy cousins. The bananas are on us, guys!

Meanwhile, in other news…

I’m presuming, based on the cookies I’ve placed in your computers (it kind of feels like being in the NSA in the control room at the Hampshire Independent), that most of you have read Windy Cutler’s detailed report on the post-Gasland discussion last week, so I won’t go into that. As even you slackers who haven’t been checking into party headquarters may have seen in the Hampshire Review and Cumberland Times-News, the evening was an outstanding success, with a near-capacity crowd at the library, despite terrible weather.

Since I don’t want anybody to “have an accident,” as they say, worrying about at what strength I’m going to point my sometimes dangerously unpredictable pen at them, I’ll just somewhat prosaically thank the people whose more-than-generous contribution of their time (no filthy lucre changes hands at HCIN, thank you very much) made the evening such a wonderful and informative community experience:

Head librarian Amanda Snyder, Pat Henson and the rest of the hardworking staff at the public library in Romney; award-winning artist and photographer Jan Dodgins, for on-the-spot photojournalism and the most excellent business cards she designed and produced for HCIN; Charlie Streisel, Chuck Sherry and Steve Bailes, for technical wizardry; Potomac Riverkeeper and their Upper Potomac Manager, Brent Walls, the kid brother we can’t seem to get rid of; the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization and West Virginia Sierra Club, for the flyers they sent us to distribute; the Hampshire Review and Cumberland Times-News, for the extensive coverage they’ve given this issue and our event; and the band of unusually loose cannons I travel with, Bill Arnold, Windy Cutler, Dorothy Kengla and Jim Dodgins, for everything they know they did.

Speaking of Windy, she’s assumed command of the HCIN email guerilla team, daily assaulting the West Virginia legislature with phone calls demanding they ignore all that gas industry money waving in their faces and do what’s right for the people. There are already over fifty in-county citizens on the list, with an infinite number of openings, and if they ever decide to have a party, you might be sorry you didn’t join them because simply everyone else will be there. If you feel like getting down and dirty and mixing it up with the pols, and want to “get civic,” as we like to say here at HCIN, send Windy an email at, and she’ll keep you posted on the latest shenanigans in Charleston. I’m glad to be relieved of the duty, so I can go back to my usual job of staring slack-jawed at the computer.

Speaking of which…as my wife’s friends all know, I already spend way too much time on the Internet. And being a somewhat notorious paranoid (just google “paranoid shift”), I’ve always thought of Facebook as just another Pentagon data mining program. But let’s face it: in an era of total information awareness (no matter what they choose to call it), when the NSA reads all our emails and listens to all our phone calls, and their massive computers are programmed to hit “transcribe” every time they register any key word that smacks faintly of dissidence, and utterly shameless TSA agents feel perfectly free to grope your spouse’s genitals, isn’t everything a Pentagon data mining program, really…including this very email?

For those who haven’t yet deleted, I’ll continue…I may be a stodgy old computer-illiterate neoLuddite, but gosh darn it, even I can recognize that, in the age of Tunisian Twitter rebellions, if you want to keep pace, you must do as the Tunisians. So our flagship website, the Hampshire Independent, is seeking a qualified candidate to operate a Facebook page.

The ideal candidate would be an anarchist skateboarder with a nose ring, so computer-savvy she can embed a video on her iPhone at the top of a midair loop while simultaneously fending off sneak cyberattacks by the intelligence community (including their private contractors). Failing that, anyone who has ever collapsed in hilarity as they imagined me laboriously typing yet another 356-character URL because I still haven’t figured out how to create a you-know-what hyperlink, is welcome to apply. County residents will be given priority.

I’d like to almost conclude this epic (we’re not quite there yet, for those of you who have been crossing your legs and need a break) on a personal note—if my comrades in the HCIN politburo will forgive this flagrant breach of party discipline. My folk and gospel quartet, the Time Travelers, is one of only three local bands chosen to appear with an all-star country and bluegrass lineup at this year’s Wappocomo Festival on the South Branch River on June 25th. I hope you local fans of the group can make it. They had over three thousand people in the audience last year, so as you can imagine, we’re both honored and thrilled.

Of course, since our Republican mandolin player (who’s pretty strong-willed, for a girl) doesn’t allow me to say anything overtly political from the stage, I have to keep my big mouth as shut as propriety and principle will allow. But that probably works out better for me, rotten tomatoes-wise, given the audiences we face.

We’ll get back to you after the next county commission meeting with a report on the courage, foresight and Mount Rushmore-esque vision of our county commissioners, as they lead a truly historic populist struggle against the mighty captains of transnational industry sipping legislators’ blood in their cocktails. (I would hate to think of writing the chillingly terrible alternative. Just saying.)

Anyway. By the time I add the draft resolution to this email, it will be over half the length of the US Constitution, so we all might as well just go ahead and form a new government! Just kidding, of course. (Heh, heh.)

Being the world’s foremost living radical pantheist (Just google it if you don’t believe me. Admittedly, there’s not much crowd to contend with. Pantheists are harder to organize than anarchists. I mean it’s exactly opposite the point. But I specialize in seeking honors that no one else really cares about. I’ll duke it out with Spinoza for the all-time championship posthumously.) (I’m being immodest. Please forgive me.), I am sometimes inappropriately unserious. But I hope, in the time until the next HCIN bulletin arrives, you will find a moment to seriously ponder the words we have inscribed over the entrance here at HCIN:

“Changing the world through absurdity, one step at a time.”

Seeya in a couple weeks.


Resolution of the Hampshire County WV Commission
The Hampshire County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee

January 25, 2011

The Hampshire County government, being the branch of government closest to the people, is the first line of protection of the people’s security and well-being, and the branch of government most responsible for administering order in the case of any major threat to public health, or in the event of any catastrophe; and

The introduction of new technologies, including the process known as hydraulic fracturing, into the exploitation of natural gas in the Marcellus shale region, which includes much of Hampshire County, has raised questions among scientists about whether the possible effects of these technologies on the environment, and on the health and property of the population, have been sufficiently researched; and

The uncertainty of the effects of the process of hydraulic fracturing has led the government of New York State to declare a moratorium for six months on its use; and the government of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to declare a ban on the use of the hydraulic fracturing process within the city limits; and

Every agency and department in the Hampshire County government, especially those administering public health and safety, has the potential to be seriously affected by the possible adverse consequences of the process of hydraulic fracturing, which consequences remain the subject of intense scientific investigation and research; and

The Hampshire County government, especially in its administrative and planning functions, has the responsibility of maintaining a public order that encourages county economic development, and that protects the health, security, property and property rights of the citizens of Hampshire County, West Virginia,

Therefore, be it resolved,
That a majority vote of the Hampshire County WV Commission shall establish the Hampshire County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee; and

That said Committee shall consist of between four and twenty citizens of Hampshire County WV; and that the membership of said Committee shall, as far as possible, reflect the broadest range of public interest, with every stakeholder group represented, including the gas industry, landowners, small business owners, farmers, public health representatives, environmentalists and other concerned citizens; and

That said Committee, at the conclusion of six months from its establishment, shall present a preliminary report to the Hampshire County WV Commission, with recommended guidelines for any actions the County Commission, within the parameters of its authority, should undertake to prepare Hampshire County citizens to face the consequences of the projected increase in natural gas development within the county borders and in neighboring counties; and at the conclusion of eighteen months, shall produce a final report, with recommendations; and

That said Committee shall undertake a campaign of public information and public awareness, to prepare Hampshire County citizens to adapt and respond to whatever changes increased natural gas development, and the introduction of new resource extraction technologies, may have upon the lives and property of county citizens; and

That said Committee shall continue in an advisory capacity, indefinitely, at the pleasure of the Hampshire County WV Commission; and

That the termination of said Committee shall occur only by a majority vote of the Hampshire County WV Commission, and after a public hearing,

Upon this signature,

Robert Hott, President, Hampshire County WV Commission
David Parker, Commissioner
Steven Slonaker, Commissioner
--Michael Hasty

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Natural gas action alert

The latest action alert from Chuck Wyrostock, on the front lines of WV Sierra Club's fight to keep the public's interests in the natural gas bill now being considered in the West Virginia legislature from being overwhelmed by the oil and gas industry.

For all you lovers of clean water, this is a crucial message--

Tell lawmakers, "Don't Weaken the Water Quality Standards Rule" (for your convenience, the attached version of this alert contains highlighted talking points.)

Water is Life. Keep It Clean.

The Water Quality Standards Rule (47CSR2) was passed out of the Interim Joint Legislative Rule-making Review Committee and introduced in both chambers. The Senate version is SB 122 and it has been double referenced first to Senate Natural Resources Committee, and then to Senate Judiciary. The Natural Resources Committee may consider the bill as early as this week. A variety of industry groups are strongly opposed to the new standard for "total dissolved solids" proposed in this rule. So it is important that we ask members of the committee NOT TO WEAKEN the proposed standard.

Some Background: Every three years, each state is required by the federal Clean Water Act to update its water quality standards. It's called the Triennial Review process, and it's an integral part of the Clean Water Act's attempt to ensure that state water quality standards are protective of human health and the environment. Water quality standards are basically the amounts of various pollutants that are allowed to be dumped into our rivers and streams. These standards determine just how clean - or how dirty - our water will be.

As part of the Triennial Review Process, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has proposed changes to the state Water Quality Standards Rule (47CSR2) for consideration by the Legislature in 2011. The proposed changes were passed by the Interim Rule-Making Review Committee, and are now under consideration by the full Legislature.

For the first time, DEP is proposing a statewide water quality standard for "Total Dissolved Solids" (TDS). Dissolved solids are primarily various salts-- such as chlorides and sulfates - that are dissolved in water and are normally present in most streams. However, at high enough levels, these pollutants can be dangerous to human health and aquatic life and can make water used in drinking supplies taste and smell bad. High levels of TDS can come from a variety of sources, including coal-mining discharges and oil and gas well brine.

DEP is proposing a statewide water quality standard for total dissolved solids of 500 mg/l measured in-stream. This is stronger than Pennsylvania's standard of 500mg/l which is measured only at public water supply in-takes. However, it is twice as high as the 250mg/l that EPA recommends as the HumanHealth Standard for total dissolved solids. While we believe the stateshould adopt the stronger EPA standard, it absolutely should not adopt a weaker standard than is proposed in this rule.

Please call or email the members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and urge them not to weaken DEP's proposed changes to the Water Quality Standards Rule (47CSR2). Legislators need to hear that their constituents want clean water.

Below is a list of Senate Natural Resources Committee members and their contact information. You can also contact (and leave messages for) members using the Toll Free phone number: 1-877-565-3447.

Thanks for your help.

Senate Natural Resources Committee Members:
William R. Laird IV -- Chair (D - Fayette) District 11 Capitol Phone: (304)357-7849E-mail:
John Pat Fanning - Vice Chair (D - McDowell) District 6 Capitol Phone: (304)357-7867E-mail:
Clark S. Barnes (R - Randolph) District 15 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7973E-mail:
Robert D. Beach (D - Monongalia) District 13 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7919E-mail:
Donna J. Boley (R - Pleasants) District 3 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7905E-mail:
Larry J. Edgell (D - Wetzel) District 2 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7827E-mail:
Douglas E. Facemire (D - Braxton) District 12 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7845E-mail:
Karen L. Facemyer (R - Jackson) District 4 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7855E-mail:
Mike Green (D - Raleigh) District 9Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7831E-mail:
Walt Helmick (D - Pocahontas) District 15 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7980E-mail:
Roman Prezioso (D - Marion) District 13 Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7961E-mail:
Bob Williams (D - Taylor) District 14Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7995E-mail:
Mark Wills (D - Mercer) District 10Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7843E-mail:

If you want to send a message to all of the above, just copy and paste the following to an email "TO" field (note that phone calls or individual emails may carry more weight):,,,,,,,,,,,
Don't forget...each Wednesday is "Marcellus Day" at the Capitol (Tuesdays and Thursdays work well, too). A lobby team member from Sierra Club, WVEC,OVEC or SORO will be there to provide you with guidance and handouts and make your visit to the capitol easy and effective. Democracy is a participation sport. Meeting with your Senators and Delegate is the most effective way to get your message across. Let us know when you're coming and we'll help make your visit worthwhile.

Feb. 9th (a Wednesday...go figure) is E-Day at the Capitol, Citizen LobbyDay, 9am till 3pm with the halls filled with environmental exhibit booths.In the evening, plan to attend E-Day Benefit Dinner & Award CeremonyCharleston Women's Club, 1600 Virginia Street East 6:00pm - 9:00pm Soup &Salad Buffet, Award presentations: 7:15pm-8:00pmCost: $15 donation or $25 couple. Good food, a fine time.

Chuck Wyrostok, Sierra Club Outreach Organizer
Toll free 877 252 0257

Monday, January 24, 2011

Look both ways

As a child I was taught to look both ways before crossing the street. This is a universal, common-sense lesson, taught throughout the world. It plain and simply says, "be cautious."

When it comes to Marcellus gas we only have one chance; we can't put the genie back in the bottle.

I have been watching Marcellus gas exploitation for a few years now, long before there was a well near my home. Since there is little to no real information coming out of the gas industry (other than denials), I decided to do some research.

First off, I'm not one of those "disgruntled people" who doesn't own much land, and has nothing to gain monetarily from seeking out the highest bidder for a gas lease. After all, there is a Marcellus gas well and pipeline less than a mile from my farm. The second thing is more of an obstacle: how to write about scientific research without getting bogged down in too much detail, leaving readers apathetic.

What happens when the drilling starts will affect your life. How things are handled by our politicians will determine whether the outcome will be good or bad, or possibly downright ugly.

In 2005 a report was released by Geohorizons on a study done by William Harbert, PhD, Victor T. Jones, PhD, John Izzo and Thomas H. Anderson, PhD. The study encompassed the migration of natural gas in the Lost River area, gas that was detected in soil samples.

"Large concentrations, coupled with high saturate-to-olefin ratios, further confirms that this active seepage is near macroseep levels," the study reported. These large migrations of gas are coming from the Devonian shale formation, which includes Marcellus shale. "Light hydrocarbons generated in source rocks and trapped in a deep reservoir leak in varying quantities toward the surface of the Earth. Such leakage is driven principally by pressure and permeability; thus, the amount of leakage is dependent on the number and magnitude of openings, such as faults, fractures, and bedding planes that reach the surface."

This study also discovered the presence of methane gas in shallow water wells in the town of Lost River. It seems to me that fracking would enlarge these already existing pathways that gas escapes from, and maybe even create new ones. Fracking is also done under extreme pressure.

Two exploratory wells were drilled in the early 1980s; one well was 16,075 feet, over 3 miles. This is important because of the following study. Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, part of NiSource (see my previous posts in the Hampshire Independent) is considering further development of the fields in Hardy County, based on seismic data (proprietary) collected in the early 1990s.

Energy Earth published a scientific paper recently, "Elevated Crustal Temperatures in West Virginia: Potential for Geothermal Power," which said, "A significant area of high temperature at depth due to high heat loss from the interior of the Earth has been identified in the eastern part of West Virginia. The finding is the result of detailed mapping and interpretation of bottom-hole temperature (BHT) data from oil and gas wells. . ."

At 5.5 kilometers the geothermal temperature hovers at around 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). That's hot enough to boil water.

If you remember from the study I mentioned above on wells in the Lost River area, one well was 16,075 feet, just shy of 5 kilometers. What would these temperatures do to fracking fluids? Would they be vaporized? Would they travel the same route that the migrating natural gas travels--into drinking water? What about the new passages created by the fracking process and the high pressure?

Hydrofracked areas have been mapped using an array of seismic sensors. These fracture mappings show that fracking can reach out over a mile from the well bore, creating new fissures and enlarging existing ones.

Richard Young, PhD, a geologist, believes a ban on fracking is necessary, because fracking is too unpredictable and is likely to cause water contamination. "Rocks are full porous pathways for fluids to move . . . especially the faults," he says. "There is just no way to control where the fluid goes."

We have a fault that runs through the center of Hampshire County, where most of the old gas wells were drilled in the 1950s and 1960s. It's also near the Little Cacapon River. Young also says, "Groundwater is more complicated than most people think." He explains that when water is above the ground it moves down, but when it's below the surface, it moves up. "The migration of fluids in the rock is going to be an issue."

There are incidents of fracking fluid showing up in groundwater in Colorado and Pennsylvania, believed to have migrated there from deep gas wells. The industry claims it is impossible for fracking fluids to migrate up. They also claim that the recovery of natural gas is safe, while at the same time having 1,614 violations recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection over a 30-month period.

Referring to the "closed loop" drilling systems that have been developed as an alternative to hydrofracking, J. M. Evans, PhD, says, "It appears that a reduction in the risk of environmental pollution (both air and water) may be accomplished through implementation of fracking methods and techniques that use closed fluid systems, or eliminate the use of water as the fracking fluid. Such techniques exist and are well known to the industry, and may even save money when utilized for the fracking process. The potential for pollution of ground water supplies as a result of upward migration of fracking fluid through naturally existing fractures in the geologic structure overlying the Marcellus formation may be eliminated only through the elimination of toxic fracking chemicals currently used in the process."

This presents a lot of unanswered questions about how safely fracking can be done.

Now make sure you look both ways before you cross the street. You may be run over by a Halliburton truck.

--Jim Dodgins

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spiritual politics

The latest issue of the New Yorker has an article about Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the man who led the independence movement in the 1940s that freed the nation of Burma from British colonial rule. She studied philosophy and political science at Oxford University, and as the leader of their pro-democracy movement is revered by the Burmese people for her vision and staunch principles. That’s why the military dictatorship there has kept her either imprisoned or under house arrest for most of the near-quarter century since she returned to Burma.

She was recently freed again, and has immediately returned to rebuilding the democracy movement that had been brutally suppressed several years ago—with thousands killed and imprisoned—and largely disempowered by last year’s rigged elections—which left the dictatorship in total control of their newly forged Potemkin democracy, and the option of cancelling all human rights at any time.

One bit in the article I found particularly interesting is that, for her personal endurance and commitment to her vision, Aung San Suu Kyi depends on daily meditation practice. “In captivity,” the article says, “she had practiced vipasanna meditation, an ancient technique attributed to the Gautama Buddha.”

Her description of her early practice will seem familiar to anyone who’s practiced meditation. “I found it very difficult to do, because my mind was wandering, instead of being fixed on one particular place—your breathing, the rising and falling of your abdomen. I got frustrated, thinking, My goodness, can’t I do even this little mind exercise? But with persistence, you get there.”

What made this detail so interesting to me is that she seems to be describing the core of the technique of my new yoga teacher, Swami Ramachandrananda, who teaches a free class at the library in Romney every Saturday morning at 10.

One of the more remarkable aspects of living in Hampshire County is that, even though there seems to be a church on every ridge of one Christian denomination or another, mostly fundamentalist—we even have a small village named, for obvious reasons, Three Churches—there is also a growing community of people (last time I looked, we were still the third-fastest growing county in the state, even with the real estate bust) who get their religious inspiration from Eastern spirituality. There is a Buddhist retreat in the eastern part of the county, and a $15 million Transcendental Meditation center opening in the northern end this year. Probably this phenomenon is happening in other parts of the state (as the boomer “creative class” retires to the mountains) and I just don’t know about it, but I find it fascinating.

Swami Rama has an international reputation as a “holy man,” with followers all over the world. He will be the guest of honor at the International World Yoga Federation conference in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2011. We’re very fortunate to have him here in Hampshire County, where he has lived for a number of years. I’ve seen him walking around town in his ski cap and long graying beard, and knew who he was because some of my friends had studied yoga with him, but never really had the opportunity to meet him before last summer—he says because the universe is so precisely timed. He has large brown eyes that twinkle often, when he’s amused, and otherwise have the amazing focus that obviously comes from a lifetime of concentration.

I was lucky to realize early in life that the key to successful aging is flexibility, and have been practicing yoga for almost forty years, mostly on my own. But sometimes you need a teacher to steer you back onto the path. Here’s a website where you can find out more about him:

The Swami has a small community of people around here that seems to center on him, into which I’ve been most pleasantly absorbed by virtue of being a new student. As you can imagine, they’re all very nice people. I think he likes to have me around because he finds me so disagreeable, which seems to be a refreshing change of pace from his usual followers. I was born with a congenital resistance to authority; my purpose in life seems to be compulsive irritant.

For example, I challenged him yesterday in class on a statement he’d made the week before, about cats not being able to concentrate as well as humans. Being a pantheist who lives with cats, I immediately wondered if this was some trans-species version of the Indian caste system, considering his origins and everything.

I just happened to casually mention what he said to the cats that night, when I was getting their dinner ready. They rolled their eyes and looked at each other for the split second it took to reach mental consensus that this was yet another example of the invariability of human stupidity, and then looked back at me with that “Just dish the Purina, bud” look they get. You know what I mean.

The only one not too insulted to talk to me about it was Smudge, the youngest, who, lacking the others’ wider experience with human ignorance, still harbors some compassion for us. She’s also my yoga teacher in the animal world. You may think I’m kidding, but if she thinks I’ve got a posture wrong, she doesn’t hesitate to stick a claw in me.

Anyway, Smudge says, “Look. I can concentrate hard enough to jump onto a surface twice as high as my body length. Can you do that?” Well, of course they’d all seen me around the house, and had never intuited me even thinking about doing something like that, so I could hardly lie to them. So I didn’t say anything. I thought I heard them snickering in their dishes, but didn’t feel like getting into an argument about it. You never know what a cat might do to you in your sleep.

Anyway, I reported back my conversation with the cats to the Swami yesterday, but he stood his ground on the subject. I told him that, regretfully, out of household solidarity, I was sticking with the cats—who I agree with, anyway. I’m no species-ist. We agreed to disagree, but I think he was secretly getting back at me later when he told us to assume what I think of as the “flying” pose, which he knows I have trouble with, even though he lets us keep one leg on the floor (none of us are that advanced).

The Swami and I have a few other subjects we like to debate. He’s quite aware, politically; and as my friends know, I’m rarely as happy as when I’ve found someone who will disagree with me, so I can hone my ideas. I think our most fundamental difference of opinion is the classic East/West philosophical divide. He, in his Eastern way, thinks that if humanity really wants to destroy itself and its home planet—as humans by all appearances seem to want to do—who is he to stop it, if God won’t?

I, on the other hand, had a Christian upbringing, in which my mind was filled by Franciscans and Jesuits alike with the Western “crusader” spirit (a word sharper than a serpent’s tooth from any Muslim mouth, but tragically accurate)—a spirit that says that, as the children of divinity (“Is it not written, ye are gods?” Jesus asked), we have just as much responsibility for creating what happens here on Earth as God does. And since we have this responsibility, it’s our job to be about our Father’s business.

We’ll keep hashing this debate out, I’m sure, because we’ve already become great friends. Probably every student he has feels the same way about him—though perhaps without the chess match of wills. But I need to tell you about the important influence he’s had on this website, the Hampshire Independent.

I had only recently met Swami Rama when I started editing this site, but I dropped by his house one day to ask if he had any advice about goals for our online project. He didn’t hesitate a moment to answer.

“Unity,” he said. “Seek unity. That’s the way of God.”

I don’t mind telling you that the answer surprised me. This is an obviously partisan site—how could we get to unity, in these harshly divisive times? But I immediately sensed that he was right. And as I thought about it more over the next few days, I realized that my first-generation immigrant Indian friend had a valuable lesson to teach his floundering student whose forebears have been here since before the Revolution—this nation was built on a spirit of unity. And even though we have criticized our political opposites here, without restraint at times, I have tried to keep the Swami’s advice to seek unity as our highest ideal.

“E pluribus unum”—out of many, one—is our national motto. We have been a divided, pluralistic nation from the very beginning. And it is out of our long struggle to bridge those divisions that America has been created. If we can remember who we are, and think about how clear the Framers’ intentions were when they passed that simple national motto down to us, we can emerge from the crisis of democracy in which we presently find ourselves—and it is indeed a crisis—and perhaps once again become a great nation, a status we have sadly lost.

We’re trying to arrange our schedules for the Swami and his wife to join us for dinner at our place, so I can test his theory.

If he can make friends with the cats, anything can happen.


This essay inaugurates our “Sunday morning gospel hour” here at the Independent, which I’m now decreeing as the self-exalted (because I’m the only one with the password) editor (“Ever striving to be humbled” is our motto here). If you have thoughts about the connections between religion and politics you feel like putting into writing, send them along to our email address; and if I think they’re consistent with our ideals, I’ll post them on Sunday. Otherwise, if nothing appears, it means I’m sleeping off a bender.

--Michael Hasty

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Gasland" wrapup

“I had tried to keep anger and sorrow at bay.”

So said Josh Fox as he broke down while kneeling beside the now polluted Divide Creek in Colorado, the creek which reminded him so much of his own creek at his home in Pennsylvania, in his documentary film, "Gasland." Josh had spent weeks touring natural gas drilling sites in many states, beginning in Dimock, PA, near his own home, where he had been offered $100,000 for a lease on his property of 19 acres. Josh traveled through much of the West—Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—to follow up on reports of adverse consequences to the environment and to people.

He interviewed whistle blowers and town mayors, and tried to interview, by phone and in person, industry officials. He listened to people relate their experiences, from large scale ranchers to back-to-the-landers in remote areas. He collected water samples for testing, watched tap water and creek water being set afire. Josh attended legislative hearings where members dismissed any evidence save that from industry officials; environmental agency meetings where no representative of the agency was in attendance; press conferences where no press showed up.

The film both opened and closed with scenes from an energy committee hearing in the U. S. House of Representatives, with industry leaders seeking to prove that reports of environmental damage and personal injury were not true--that hydraulic fracturing was safe--while opposing witnesses presented reports on damage and illness. Rep. Boren (D-OK) claims that one witness is “…searching for a problem that does not exist. Because looking at all these other incidents, in other states, there has not been a problem with hydraulic fracturing. And I’m proud that I’m supported by the oil and gas industry because they employ a lot of people in my state, and I’m gonna stick up for the, I’m tired of people trying to shut down an industry when they’re not educated on the facts. If you’re not able to do this hydraulic fracturing, how much more will we be dependent upon foreign oil---and---and terrorism.” The hearing closed soon after.

"Gasland" was shown at a public meeting, sponsored by the Hampshire County Independent Network, at the Romney Public Library on Monday, January 17th; or, that is, part of the film was shown, as it runs for nearly two hours, and it wasn't possible to show it in its entirety and still allow time for Q & A. I want to urge you to watch the film in its entirety—the library has a copy, you can buy it, or rent it, or borrow it. Or you can download it and watch it free at

Brent Walls, of Potomac Riverkeeper, conducted the discussion that followed the film, beginning with a brief overview of the process and its effects. The Marcellus shale, with which we are concerned, underlays much of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and parts of other states, and is believed to contain vast amounts of natural gas.

But the shale itself makes the gas difficult to extract, and this is where hydraulic fracturing comes in; the process breaks up the shale and causes the gas to pool and become more easily extracted.

There are problems with this largely unregulated process—Best Management Practices (BMP) are not always adhered to. There is lack of regulation, lack of information, lack of inspection, lack of enforcement at the state level, with only 17 DEP inspectors to keep track of 55,000 wells. There is no permit required for extraction of water, which is required in prodigious proportions for the process. Companies vary greatly in the implementation of BMP, such as, in the lining of pits. A probability study shows that there is a 76% chance of a major incident occurring at every single well-head. You can find more information at , , , .

Questions from the audience seemed to center on a few specific concerns: (1) mineral rights; (2) leases; (3) protecting water and health; (4) extent of wells, in number and area; (5) what can we do?

About (1) mineral rights: A property owner can check his deed to see if mineral rights conveyed with the deed, or whether a previous owner retained those rights. If in doubt, or for further information, the owner can go to the deeds office in the old courthouse in Romney. The staff there will help you learn how to locate your deed and other information, such as previous owners, whether prior owner ever signed a lease, etc. If you do not have mineral rights, you have no say in leasing or drilling. You can not keep the industry off your property. Mineral rights trump property rights.

About (2) leases: Don’t sign leases without consultation about what is fair and what provisions should be in the lease. You can get information from West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, , email

About (3) protecting water and health: As stated above, the industry cannot be depended upon to protect water and health, nor can environmental agencies keep up with regulations and inspections. It behooves persons signing leases to have their water tested before drilling starts, so that if there is any contamination later they will be able to prove it. But the battery of tests for all of these chemicals runs a few hundred dollars.

About (4) extent of wells, in number and area: Brent said that there are 3,000 wells in Pennsylvania. There are at least 500 in West Virginia. In Hampshire County there are four permits, two of which have been drilled, and one of those has had some fracking. At the moment nothing is going on at those wells. As to area that can be covered by one well, Jim Dodgins [Ed. note: Jim has written many excellent articles on this subject here at the Independent. Check the December archives.] stated that the well can “spider out” for about a mile in either direction. In some places gas wells may be placed within 300 feet of each other. However, they may not be within 300 feet of a water well or creek. The pad on which a given well is situated covers about five acres.

About (5) What can we do? Not much, as individuals. Hydraulic fracturing was begun 50 or 60 years ago. How is it that there has been so little research and documentation in all that time about the consequences? Citizens need to work with their commissioners. The county commission can come together and establish rules, variance rules that a company would have to comply with. We as individuals can write to our congresspersons and agencies about our concerns and in order to urge them to take action to protect our health and environment. Some states have established moratoriums on drilling certain areas; some municipalities have passed ordinances preventing drilling.

Bob Lee, a local resident who has had a test well drilled on his property, discussed his experience. Although he was not aware of a concern about water contamination, he did feel that the company has done a good job so far. Apparently Bob has kept tabs on what is going on. The company put in a road that would not interfere with the family access to their home. They did a good job drilling the 7300’ well, encasing in cement, etc. If they choose to drill, they could go horizontally from there. If they do not choose to drill, they may abandon the site, cap off the well, put everything back together the way it was in the beginning.

Dan Harris and other attendees questioned whether our meeting and the film was balanced, as it covered only problems and not the benefits of shale drilling as a means of providing an energy source. But it could be said that industry has more or less “had the floor” over the last few years in promoting shale gas drilling, on tv and other media, with little attention given to consequences.

The program Monday night was meant to deal with the problems, as depicted in the video and covered in the discussion. But Brent Walls clearly stated that he was not there to speak about ending shale drilling, but about the necessity of requiring industry to find safer ways to extract the gas, to protect the environment and health. This does not preclude HCIN holding a panel discussion in the future to cover both the benefits and the problems associated with extraction of natural gas from shale.

--Windy Cutler

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marcellus shale news

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia met in Charleston yesterday, and seem pleased as punch about the boost in natural gas production in the state, due to the recent "gold rush" in the Marcellus shale region.

Here's the money quote in the AP story about their meeting, via the Charleston Gazette:

"The Marcellus is going to be the key to our future in this basin," Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon said. "Whatever prosperity you've enjoyed, over the next 20 years, it's going to pale in comparison. (The Marcellus shale) is a remarkable piece of real estate."


We'll have Windy Cutler's detailed report about our screening os "Gasland" on Monday in tomorrow's edition of the Independent, as soon as we get our communications straightened out. I told Windy to try a new tin can.

--Michael Hasty

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seymour unleashed

The legendary investigative journalist presently at the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, who broke the My Lai story in the Vietnam War and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, is losing his patience with the national security state.

Foreign Policy magazine has a blog post about a speech Hersh gave in Qatar the other day, where he's put into familiar territory for me--the "conspiracy" camp--for talking about how so many American military and intelligence leaders are members of the Catholic lay organization, Knights of Malta, who believe they are actually on another Middle East "crusade" in Iraq and Afghanistan to save Christianity from the Muslim horde.

If you listen closely to conservative rhetoric, consider the disproportionate number of religious fundamentalists in the military, and think about the many, many inside contacts in military and intelligence Hersh has built up over the years, you know he's right.

Since I'm somewhat notorious for having been a CIA employee in my youth (google "paranoid shift"), I'll go ahead and tell you that my first job at the age of sixteen was sorting and filing IBM cards, with information about CIA activities printed on them classified "secret" and below, like the Wikileaks cables. So I do know a little about the "need to know" intelligence culture, which is why I appreciated this remark from Hersh:

"I've given up being disillusioned about the CIA. They're trained to lie, period. They will lie to their president, they will certainly lie to the Congress, and they will lie to the American people. That's all there is to it."

--Michael Hasty

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tax the rich

Our long term debt is certainly our foremost long-term problem. Unfortunately, our appointed debt commission's report, entitled "The Moment of Truth," is an embarassing bow-down to concentrated wealth, and a slap in the face to workaday families. How can cutting taxes for corporations from 35% to 26%, and for the rich from 35% to 23%, reduce our debt?

We've not been told that the child tax credit and earned income credit will be eliminated along with the home mortgage tax deduction. Plus, gas taxes going up by 15 cents, health care benefits taxed, increased co-pays and deductibles that seniors pay for Medicare, and then they'll bludgeon Social Security by cutting benefits, slashing the COLA and raising the retirement age to 69.

We've been told,"Everything is on the table." They lie! Removing the income gap on Social Security taxes; outlawing offshore tax havens; raising the corporate tax rates; taxing foreign currency speculation; banning dynasty trusts; eliminating interest-payment deductions for corporate mergers; stopping the waste and fraud of war profiteers; raising the ridiculously low fines for environmental and safety violations; disallowing corporate tax deductions for lobbying: NOT ON THE TABLE.

Global financial speculators engage in high-rolling, computer driven, multi-trillion dollar casino-style gambling. The vast bulk of Wall Street transactions are purely speculative spins of the wheel---such as gaming: 1) foreign currency exchanges, 2) collateralized debt obligations, 3) credit default swaps, 4)crude oil/natural gas futures, and 5) farm commodity futures. The Wall Street Journal says it amounts to $700 trillion annually.

The five largest financial institutions taxpayers bailed out are 20% bigger today, control $8.6 trillion in speculative assets and are still too big to fail. Their CEOs cannot manage them nor can their regulators provide adequate oversight.

Our banking system must be structured to serve "our" national interest(s), not the insatiable self-interests of our multimillionaire bankers and billionaire speculators. We need a functional restraint on their addiction to frenzied gambling on financial nonsense, helping to stabilize our bubble-generating economy.

Who remembers from 1914 to 1932 when we had a 0.02% tax on the buying and selling of stocks? In 1932, Congress more than doubled it, to help job creation and national recovery during the Depression.

$700. x 0.02% = $1.75 trillion

This annual general coffer sum would quickly retire the debt and promote exponential growth.

The key to dealing with the national debt is that everyone--especially the financial community that has robbed the nation blind--should prepare to sacrifice.

And everything's on the table.

--Bill Arnold

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A brief morning-after report

Despite predictions of bad weather that actually materialized during the meeting, about 70 concerned Hampshire County citizens braved the elements to attend our showing of the movie "Gasland," about the effects of drilling for natural gas, at the Romney library last night. Even with four-wheel drive and driving slow, I had two slight spinouts on my way home, so I hope everyone made it home safely.

The audience ranged from industry-defending fundamentalists to Gaia-worshipping treehuggers, but the discussion was serious and invariably respectful. The presence of both Republican county commission president Bob Hott, and Democratic county prosecutor Steve Moreland, illustrated that this is an issue where the interest and concern crosses all partisan lines.

Windy Cutler will have a full report on the meeting coming up soon here at the Independent, so stay tuned. Our speaker, Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Manager for Potomac Riverkeeper, did a terrific job, displaying both expertise and endurance despite being totally socked by a cold he got from his kids. Anything he didn't know, our HCIN resident expert on gas drilling, Jim Dodgins, did, so from our perspective it was a very successful discussion.

Thanks to everybody who made this event happen, especially Brent and head librarian Amanda Snyder, and most of all that famously civic-minded librarian, Pat Henson, who opened the place up for us on her day off, and let us talk as long as we wanted. We didn't even have to lock her in the employee bathroom.

The one thing I can say with certainty is that Hampshire County citizens will continue to work on this issue, to try to make sure that the "Marcellus Shale gold rush" does not overwhelm us here. We'll keep you posted.

--Michael Hasty

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gasland tonight!

The documentary film, "Gasland," about the varied experiences of people who have had natural gas drilling on their property or in their neighborhood, will be shown tonight, Monday January 17th, at 6 pm, at the Hampshire County public library in Romney.

Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Manager for Potomac Riverkeeper, will be on hand after the screening to discuss local gas development and the possible impact on this county from what is being called the "Marcellus Shale gold rush."

The library is closed for regular services today, in honor of Martin Luther King Day. But the doors will open at 5 pm for the film. There will be no regular library services.

In case of bad weather, or for some other reason you can't make the public meeting tonight (we've been told that several local elected officials are planning to attend, which should make for a substantive discussion), "Gasland" is available online for free viewing at:

Otherwise, I hope you can make it to the library for a critical discussion of this very important and complex issue. We will need as many voices in the public dialogue as possible, if we ever hope to reach a fair solution to the serious problems this issue raises.

--Michael Hasty

A familiar story

"Obviously, Mississippi and the other Southern states seceded and fought the Civil War to protect their 'peculiar institution' — as they plainly stated in their documents of secession. When South Carolina seceded, three weeks before Mississippi, its declaration focused on the North’s attacks on slavery and the 'election of a man to the high office of president of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.'

...Yet it should be almost equally obvious that the vast majority of those who fought on the Confederate side but owned no slaves were not fighting to defend slavery. Rather, they were duped by the planter aristocracy into fighting to protect the slave “property” of the rich.

Slaveholders riled the region’s less affluent whites by talk of a struggle to maintain their freedom from the federal government that, the planters told them, wanted to take away their liberty.

The slaveholders were able to persuade other white Southerners to fight, kill and die for a cause that was, in fact, against their own interests. Slavery worked against whites who owned no slaves. They had to compete with those who had this cheap source of labor. Protecting slavery also made the South hostile to other reforms, including industrialization, that could have benefited less affluent whites."

--Submitted by Pat Henson

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The ascension to the throne

West Virginia is only one of a handful of states operating in the black. Why? Is it because West Virginia is endowed with an abundance of visionary leaders? NO! It's because West Virginia is endowed with an abundance of natural resources--resources that have been allowed to be exploited for generations, by politicians who feel they have dominion over the bounties that nature has given to us all.

In bygone days, when gas was first discovered in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, it was common practice to bleed ailing patients in an attempt to save their lives. In most cases, bleeding had the opposite effect. This same practice is applied to our state and its natural resources, having the same adverse results. In an attempt to keep West Virginia out of the red, our politicians are willing to bleed her dry.

The time must come when selling off priceless ecosystems is not the only way to maintain fiscal solvency. If not, we can drop the "Wonderful" from our state motto, "Wild, Wonderful West Virginia," and just become "Wild West Virginia." Today's politicians are betraying future generations by robbing them of their rich natural heritage. For what? Thirty pieces of silver?

We need only look toward our oracles in Charleston to understand that the more things change, the more they remain the same. West Virginia's politicians have enacted few regulations pertaining to the exploration and exploitation of Marcellus shale gas. Why? Sen. Mike Green (D-Raleigh), Chairman of the Senate Energy Industry and Mining Committee: "We welcome that industry with open arms . . . I think the industry itself will be willing to come and do it right." He also said he felt that West Virginia wouldn't have the same problems as New York, because we have an abundance of water. Is he that out of touch? The moratorium in New York had nothing to do with a lack of water, but instead, the poisoning of drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.

As a legislative interim committee discussed two proposed bills pertaining to shale gas exploitation, they decided to forward one plan without recommending its passing. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections Bill was not forwarded, so at this point it will not be part of the Legislative Agenda. This bill would have added sorely needed inspectors to monitor the largely unregulated gas industry.

Lobbyist for the gas industry, Corky DeMarco, questioned whether the industry could afford the ten- to fifteen-thousand-dollar per well permit fee--a fee that is now a paltry $400 to $650. This is an industry that has the potential to make millions of dollars from each well. They must've misread Joe's sign as, "West Virginia is Open for The Business."

As King Coal is in its death throes after being bled profusely, Mega Gas, its heir apparent, is positioning to ascend to the throne. We can hear the chant coming out of Charleston, "The King is dead! Long live the King!"

Let the genuflecting begin.

--Jim Dodgins

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interim committee advances Marcellus Shale legislation

The latest update from the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization:

Earlier this week, Subcommittee A of the Joint Judiciary Committee advanced a bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Although the committee advanced the bill without a recommendation for passage by the full legislature, this keeps the bill alive. It also means the legislature will have two comprehensive bills to consider. The DEP has finalized its legislation and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed off on the package (although it will not be a governor’s bill and Tomblin did not mention it in the State of the State address).

Both bills are aimed at regulating the Marcellus Shale gas well drilling occurring now in West Virginia, but would apply to all drilling using these new techniques. In addition, both bills would provide DEP with much needed funds to hire additional inspectors through an increase permit fees. Although each bill omits some things we want, (and the interim bill does some things better than the DEP bill, and vice versa) both bills are a good start at protecting our land and water resources from destructive drilling practices.

Thanks for taking the time to contact members of the interim committee with your concerns.
The West Virginia Environmental Council has prepared a detailed comparison of the two proposals and we’ll provide you with more particulars in future updates. In the meantime, please consider joining us in Charleston for Citizen Lobby Days.

Citizen Lobby Days Planned

Please join WV-SORO and others working to protect our land and water resources from destructive drilling practices each Wednesday (or any day*) during the 2011 Legislative Session (Starting January 19, 2011) at the state capitol in Charleston, to urge lawmakers to strengthen West Virginia’s oil and gas drilling laws.

*A group of organizations working on these issues has picked Wednesdays as Citizen Lobby Days. However, with a little advance notice a member of the WV-SORO team will be happy to meet you anytime you are available to come to Charleston.

Whenever you can come, please contact Julie at or (304) 610-9094 in advance to arrange a time and location to meet.

We also recommend calling ahead to schedule an appointment with your legislators. We hope you can join us!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Energy trends

It's always interesting to get a business-eye view of where trends in energy production are going, and how that might affect us here in the Marcellus Shale region. Besides an announcement of a corporate takeover of a gas utility plant in Kentucky, the Bloomberg website has a story of how the fracking process is now being used to drill for oil, because the gas drilling boom in Appalachia has cut the price of natural gas by over two-thirds. But the high cost of drilling for oil is dampening those prospects, too.

This is all related to the question of Peak Oil, which the Pentagon and CIA are studying, but is generally kept out of public view, because the implications are so dire. But global oil production has been essentially flat since 2005, at a time when the big-population Asian economies, also oil-based, are just gearing up. We are entering a turning point of global civilization.

I'm fortunate to have smart friends (who doesn't, considering the company our friends keep?), but at least one of my friends is a genius--which means he's not always easy to understand. But my friend, Mark Robinowitz, always has his eye on the big picture, and he is definitely thinking in the right direction on the question of where global energy policy needs to go--that is, in the direction of local economies fueled by local energy production.

He's put up a webpage with a chart/summary of his forthcoming book, "Peak Choice: Cooperation or Collapse?" The center column has a list of critical issues. To the left is the "fake debate" in the media on those issues. To the right are what Mark calls "fractal solutions"--meaning those arrived at by natural, organic processes, at a local, regional and global level.

It's a new way of looking at the energy question, but he offers hope, where there is little to be found in traditional approaches, and the horsemen of Peak Oil are galloping.

--Michael Hasty

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fracking and earthquakes

A friend of mine pointed me to a fascinationg article at Global Research, "Oil and Gas Collection: Hydraulic Fracturing, Toxic Chemicals, and the Surge of Earthquake Activity in Arkansas." It's illustrated with some interesting maps and graphs, is heavily footnoted with official documents, and is authored by a guy with a BS in Natural Resources from the Ohio State University School of Agriculture. There is no question that increased earthquake activity has occurred in the precise area where the fracking process has been expanded in that state--even if you can't prove the connection.

The author, Rady Ananda, also suggests a possible connection to the mass bird deaths around the world. The redwing blackbirds killed in Arkansas, because they roost at night in great flocks close to the ground, would have been particularly susceptible to the release of toxic gases from the shifting ground during earthquakes.

With today being opening day of this regular session of the West Virginia Legislature, whose early moves on legislation regulating gas drilling in this state do not inspire confidence, it's good to see the Charleston Gazette continuing to shine a spotlight on this issue. Monday's edition had a "deep green" perspective on fracking from Carol Warren, "Gas drilling poses threat to people, environment." Here's the core of her argument:

"Studies by MacArthur Genius Award winner Dr. Wilma Subra have shown that people in communities where there is gas drilling and production often have a dozen or more of the chemicals used in the process in their blood. Dr. Dan Volz, of the Center for Healthy Environment and Communities, at the University of Pittsburgh, stated that even if levels of individual chemicals or volatile organics in the air or water are each within a range considered safe, 'No one, and I repeat, no one, knows the cumulative effect on human health of drinking or breathing a number of those chemicals at the same time. The data is not there. But absence of data does not indicate absence of risk.'

The gas companies like to paint the Marcellus shale boom as a wonderful opportunity for our state. Perhaps it is for some. If we are to believe Nick Casey's Jan. 3 op-ed, a law permitting forced pooling, which the gas companies want, is the only regulation currently needed.

But the industry studiously neglects to mention what is happening to people in other areas of the country where natural gas drilling and production have been taking place. Health and neurological problems, loss of water supplies, an industrialized landscape, damage to soil and water, air-quality issues, and country roads ruined by heavy truck traffic are only a few. Some people have lost the insurance on their homes because the insurance company considered their property toxic and too risky to insure."

--Michael Hasty

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What if it all collapses?

The state of Virginia is considering the question:

"In what may one day be heralded as the formal proposal that proverbially started it all, the Commonwealth of Virginia introduced House Resolution No. 557 to establish a joint subcommittee to "to study whether the Commonwealth should adopt a currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System." In other words, Virginia will study the fallback plan of a "timely adoption of an alternative sound currency that the Commonwealth's government and citizens may employ without delay in the event of the destruction of the Federal Reserve System's currency" and avoid or "at least mitigate many of the economic, social, and political shocks to be expected to arise from hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System." Most importantly as pertain to the currency in question, "Americans may employ whatever currency they choose to stipulate as the medium for payment of their private debts, including gold or silver, or both, to the exclusion of a currency not redeemable in gold or silver that Congress may have designated 'legal tender'." Whether this resolution will ever get off the ground, and actually find that the world is at great risk should gold not be instituted as a backstop currency, is irrelevant. The mere fact that it is out there, should provide sufficient impetus to other states to consider the ultimate Plan B."

--Submitted by Pat Henson

Monday, January 10, 2011

Regulating fracking

I applaud Ms. Marla Pisciotta of The Hampshire Review for shining some light on the Marcellus shale gas exploitation. It's an issue that should concern every citizen of Hampshire County; an issue that is shrouded in secrecy by the gas industry. Just by chance, I discovered a Marcellus well near my home in 2009. It's bewildering that those in positions of power and influence in our county have been virtually mute on what could be the biggest invasion on this county since the Civil War.

My greatest concern is the potential for environmental degradation. Starting with gas well spacing, how close to each other will our legislators in Charleston allow these intrusive well pads to be constructed? Will they be pervasive throughout our mountainous countryside, creating an industrial zone to feed the needs of urban America?

Even more disturbing is the fracking process used to increase a Marcellus well's commercial profitability. One percent of the average four million gallons of water used on each well is a witch's brew of toxic chemicals, some known carcinogens. One percent doesn't seem like much, but when put in perspective, one percent of four million is forty thousand. Some wells are fracked as many as ten times in their productive lives. That's four hundred thousand gallons of toxic chemicals pumped under very high pressure through our aquifers. There have been documented incidents where defective gas well casings and shoddily constructed barriers protecting drinking water have failed, poisoning water and turning rural areas into hazardous waste sites.

The political blather coming out of Charleston is insulting. The West Virginia Office of Oil and Gas has 18 inspectors and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has 12 inspectors. This is a total of 30 inspectors to oversee 150,000 existing oil and gas wells in the state, plus thousands of miles of pipeline and other infrastructure.

It is projected that by 2020 there will be 20,000 additional Marcellus wells throughout West Virginia. There were two permits issued for Marcellus drilling in Hampshire County in 2008. These exploratory wells were drilled and produced gas. The one near my home was fracked this summer. It is less than half a mile from an existing pipeline and gas storage fields that feed the Washington metropolitan area and beyond.

What next?

--Jim Dodgins

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A house divided

A few months ago, I happened upon an old farmer giving a soliloquy to a couple of other guys in a local store that included the opinion that, “Obama voters and other liberals should all be shot between the eyes”—presumably since it was their fault that that socialist dictator Obama was in the White House.

It was obvious that the guy didn’t know who I was, because I’m pretty widely known in this community as a “liberal,” having been a columnist in the local newspaper for seven years, with my picture in the paper every week. So naturally a statement like that, coming from someone in the community, attracts my attention, and I hung around to listen to the conversation. The other people there knew me.

(Personally, I don’t self-identify as a “liberal,” because how that term is perceived in this political culture, in this particular era, is an inaccurate and too mild picture of my political beliefs. But I do fit into the broader dictionary definition of “liberal” as “generous, tolerant, broadminded, and favoring reform or progress,” so I accept the designation when it’s applied.)

When the guy finished speaking, I asked him, “Who owns the government?” He had been talking about how “the government” was doing this and that, and I wanted him to think about who that actually was. He looked at me like I was stupid. “The people,” he said triumphantly.

“The people?” I scoffed. “What about the corporations?”

You could immediately see the look of confusion cross his face. He tried to recover by talking about government regulations, but I knew I had him, because around here, everybody of every political stripe knows that corporations own the government, because they’ve seen firsthand how that fact has over the years decimated the county agriculture industry, with farmers abandoning the orchards that previously dominated here for cattle farming, the last refuge of the independent small farmer.

After a few more questions, he fled in terror at this ever-so-brief glimpse into the dark infinity of his own cognitive dissonance. I followed him out of the store, announcing that I was a liberal and didn’t like to hear people talking about shooting me between the eyes, even if I didn’t vote for Obama (I voted for Cynthia McKinney), and pointing out the “Impeach Obama” bumper sticker on my tailgate. He just looked at me, still confused, and drove off.

It never occurred to me until later that he could have been going out to get the gun in his truck. That would have been embarrassing--me standing there, talking like a fool. That story would have made the gossip rounds for decades. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

I couldn’t help but think about that incident yesterday, when I heard the news about the shootings in Arizona. We don’t know at this point if it was just a troubled kid who killed and wounded so many, or a deliberate act of terrorism. Law enforcement is searching for a second suspect at this writing. But in either case, you cannot reasonably deny the influence of a toxic and unstable national political environment.

Parallels between this era and America in the 1850s, the decade before the Civil War, have been talked about for some years now—including very eloquently last night by Keith Olbermann, on his MSNBC show. He was shocked and subdued as he confessed his own part in the increased incivility of media rhetoric. Violence has no place in a democracy, he so rightly said, closing his comment with the reminder that, whatever our politics, we are all Americans. But of course, so were the Americans of early 1861—exactly 150 years ago, the year the Civil War began.

At the heart of this tragedy is our nature as a republic. We are a nation born in violent separation from our mother state; a nation established on ancestral lands stolen by force from the native population—lands developed and harvested by African slaves, brutally wrenched from their home continent—a nation whose global power rests on a proven and continuing willingness to do violence to those we perceive as enemies.

We have a military budget that almost exceeds that of the rest of the world combined; we are the world’s number one arms merchant; one of our biggest national exports is violent entertainment and grotesquely bloody video games, the favorite pastime of our scarred youth; for sheer firepower, we have the mightiest military empire the world has ever seen, over millennia of human carnage. Violence R US.

A “Christian” nation, indeed. You know…Prince of Peace.

As a nation, we have undergone a half century of culture war—a war itself inaugurated by the 20th century’s version of abolition, the civil rights movement—a war that expanded to broaden rights for others, but a war that has always included a racial undercurrent. We have been fortunate that, unlike the 19th-century culture war, ours has not yet degenerated, despite isolated episodes of violence, into actual civil war. Not yet.

But we have been partly protected from that eventuality by fortuitous circumstances that, in this era of declining empire, national indebtedness, climate change and global economic convulsions, have largely disappeared. We are a nation ripe for chaos, to be quickly followed by military dictatorship, at this very unstable moment. Our only hope for averting that is ourselves, united. We, the people who started this thing.

As an outspoken “liberal” living in a very conservative community here in the politically volatile and well-armed state of West Virginia, I have to hope that the horrific tragedy of people being gunned down in the very act of democracy serves as a wakeup call to all Americans to remember who we are, and rededicate ourselves to the highest ideals that animated our founding—including the freedom to disagree, without putting ourselves in mortal danger because we are seen as the incarnation of evil.

In order to do that, we need to rebuild our national civic culture—from the ground up. In order to do that, in this sensitive and overstressed political culture, we are going to have to come to terms with the violence in every American soul.

Perhaps we’ll find the answer—as Abe Lincoln hoped, during the last great national division—in the better angels of our nature.

--Michael Hasty

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review scores

Credit should be given when it is deserved. Despite our past criticisms of the Hampshire Review, the paper deserves credit for its decision to publish reporter Marla Pisciotta's excellent article, "Marcellus well drilling banned in two states--so far," in its latest weekly edition (1/5/11). The article is a warts-and-all introduction to the process and politics of hydraulic fracture, or "fracking," used to draw natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region, which includes Hampshire County.

Unfortunately, the article is buried at the bottom of page 2, and doesn't appear (that I could find, anyway) in the online edition of the paper.

You can send a letter to the editor thanking them for paying attention to this issue, congratulating Marla for her public service, or expressing whatever other natural reaction you may have to this information at

--Michael Hasty

Friday, January 7, 2011

Update on "Gasland"

Even though the Hampshire County public library in Romney will be closed for regular services on Monday, January 17th, in honor of the Martin Luther King Day holiday, the doors will open at 5pm for the screening of the documentary, "Gasland."

One of the librarians has generously offered her time to open the library, and we'll pass the hat for donations to help defray the cost of the utilities we use.

The film will begin at 6pm, and Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Manager for Potomac Riverkeeper, will be on hand to answer questions about local gas development after the feature.

Hope to see you there.

--Michael Hasty

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No action on Marcellus Shale drilling bill

The latest action alert from the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization:

In November, the Joint Legislative Interim Judiciary Subcommittee A introduced a draft bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. While the bill is aimed at regulating the Marcellus Shale gas well drilling occurring now in West Virginia, it would apply to all drilling using these new drilling techniques. We were hoping to report that the study committee had advanced the bill at their December meeting so that the full legislature would have a comprehensive draft bill to consider when they convene next week. Unfortunately, the committee couldn’t take any action on the bill because there were too few members present. (Read more here and here.) We’re disappointed lawmakers couldn't take up the measure, but they could still endorse the bill during January interim meetings, which begin on Sunday, January 9.

Please contact the members of Interim Judiciary Subcommittee A NOW and urge them to pass this comprehensive draft legislation out of subcommittee and on to the full legislature for its further consideration.

Committee members need to know their constituents are concerned about the greater impacts of Marcellus and other deep shale drilling and this bill is a crucial start. Including comments about problems you've experienced or know about in other areas of the state is helpful, but not necessary.

The industry has already made its opposition to this bill known -- now it's time for legislators to hear from you.

Why is this legislation needed? We are facing the industrialization of rural West Virginia.

A few years ago, Marcellus Shale gas was unrecoverable and West Virginia was a relative backwater in the oil and gas industry.

The new techniques of high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made a sea change in all of that. The Marcellus Shale is now the second largest field of gas -- in the WORLD. It is twice the size of the gas fields in Saudi Arabia. Major oil companies like Exxon are buying up gas resources here. Conventional shallow wells have given way to 6 to 8 horizontal wells drilled from one well site. This drilling causes an exponential increase in surface disturbance, waste use and waste disposal. It also requires compressor stations and staging areas and greatly increases demands on roads and other infrastructure.

Our state is facing this new industrialization with regulatory statutes have not been modified in decades, and a staff of 17 inspectors for 55,000 active wells and 900 to 3,000 new permit applications a year.

West Virginia needs to overhaul and modernize of its oversight of gas well drilling, and commit significantly more resources to address the impacts of this industrialization.

Below is a list of Judiciary A Subcommittee members and their contact information. You can also try to contact (and leave messages for) members using the Toll Free phone number: 1-877-565-3447.

Thanks for your help and Happy New Year from the WV-SORO Team!

Judiciary A Subcommittee Senate Members

Senator Herb Snyder - Chair (D - Jefferson) District 16
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7957
Capitol Address: Room 217W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Clark S. Barnes (R - Randolph) District 15
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7973
Capitol Address: Room 203W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Richard Browning (D - Wyoming) District 9
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7807
Capitol Address: Room 204W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Dan Foster (D - Kanawha) District 17
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7866
Capitol Address: Room 223W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Mike Hall (R - Putnam) District 4
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7901
Capitol Address: Room 245M, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator William R. Laird IV (D - Fayette) District 11
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7849
Capitol Address: Room 229W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Joseph M. Minard (D - Harrison) District 12
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7904
Capitol Address: Room 206W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Ron Stollings (D - Boone) District 7
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7939
Capitol Address: Room 229W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Jack Yost (D - Brooke) District 1
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7984
Capitol Address: Room 213W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Senator Jeffrey V. Kessler (D - Marshall) District 2
(Senate Judiciary Chairman, Ex Officio member of Subcommittee A)
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7880
Capitol Address: Room 210W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Judiciary A Subcommittee House Members

Delegate Mike Caputo - Chair (D - Marion) District 43
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3249
Capitol Address: Room 246M, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Delegate Larry W. Barker (D - Boone) District 18
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3149
Capitol Address: Room 224E, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Delegate Michael T. Ferro (D - Marshall) District 04
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3111
Capitol Address: Room 222E, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Delegate Danny Wells (D - Kanawha) District 30
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3287
Capitol Address: Room 208E, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Delegate Tim Manchin (D - Marion) District 43 - Nonvoting member
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3166
Capitol Address: Room 212E, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305

Delegate Tim Miley (D - Harrison) District 41
(House Judiciary Chairman, Ex Officio member of Subcommittee A)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3252
Capitol Address: Room 418M, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305