Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Public hearings on gas bill

The latest alert from the West Virginia Sierra Club:

Marcellus Shale Drilling Regulation Bills
WHEN: Thursday, Feb 17, 3:30 PM
WHERE: House of Delegates Chamber, State Capitol, Charleston

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing this Thursday on the two bills that would regulate the drilling of Marcellus Shale gas wells in West Virginia. This is a great opportunity to tell members of the committee what you think should be included in this important legislation, and what problems you may have experienced with drillers. Anyone can sign up to speak. The sign up period will be just prior to the hearing. Please keep in mind that you will likely be limited to 2-3 minutes to make your comments. This will be the only opportunity for average citizens to make their case.

If you are unable to join us in Charleston on Thursday, but have testimony you would like to have submitted (and perhaps read) on your behalf, please e-mail them to me at wyro@appalight.com by 6PM Wednesday, February 16.

If you don't wish to speak, please try to attend anyway as a show of support for the bills and the speakers. You might want to come earlier in the day to meet with your legislators. We recommend calling them for an appointment.We will be there all day to supply you with handouts and talking points and will guide you around the capitol building.

If you can't make it to the capitol (and we know many of you are working or have previous commitments) don't forget to call or email the legislators in your district and let them know that you want serious Marcellus regulation passed this year. Letters to the editor are also a very effective way of spreading the word. We can make it very easy and painless for you by providing talking points for your letter.

Here is a document containing what the WV Environmental Council and the WVSurface Owners' Rights Organization believe to be the essential elements needed for any Marcellus Shale regulatory bill.

Here is a list of provisions that are not included in either bill that we feel should be included:
1. A public notice and comment period for each permit application to drill a well
2. An actual water withdrawal permit system
3. Elimination of the General Permit for land application of pit water
4. Prohibition of the disposal of oil and gas well waste water in underground mines
5. A ban on, or additional protections for, drilling in Karst geology
6. No burying of drilling pits on site
7. Testing of all flow-back water and drill cuttings for the presence of radioactivity
8. A comprehensive statute and rules governing seismic exploration
9.Regulation of air quality at drilling sites

It's coming down to the wire. We're just about halfway through the Legislative Session. There has been a wave of citizen response on this issue, and we need to make it a tsunami to ensure that rules are put into place this year. Thanks for all you do.

Chuck Wyrostok
Sierra Club Outreach Organizer
Toll free 877 252 0257
E: wyro@appalight.com

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