Keep an eye on those frackers
“Natural gas is key to resolving America’s energy crisis,” President Obama proclaimed last week with the Nevada sun beating down all around him. That same night we learned at a meeting of the county’s Marcellus Shale Study Committee that there is little Morgan County can do to protect the local region from natural gas fracking, because of a bill passed by the West Virginia Legislature.
The Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act was passed December 14, after a short debate during a special session of the Legislature during the holiday season.
Private citizens can file for protection under the federal Clean Water Act, but the committee said best thing we can do is educate our neighbors.
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing uses volatile chemicals to explode rock miles underground and release natural gas. Pipes then take the product away for oil companies elsewhere to develop, leaving the poison chemicals behind. Several documentary films show damage done to ground water in states where fracking has already started and gas company attorneys are suing the filmmakers. Ohio had to stop fracking this month after several unusual earthquakes around well sites perplexed geologists.
The Morgan County Commissioners are now writing a recommendation to the state that would “enable us to restrict fracking as it comes closer to Morgan County,” said committee member Jim Hoyt, “to protect the springs.”
Finally, someone mentions the behemoth elephant in the room. The springs! Morgan County has a vested interest in arresting the expansion of fracking before it gets here. The springs!
As the meeting wound down, conversation went to other counties in the state where there are now dozens of natural gas fracking sites. So, now we’ve seen that fracking does create jobs: in service industries, waiting on employees from other states who are filling up the hotels. Plus, landowners can earn a low four-figure amount selling their mineral rights to landmen (aka “leasehounds”) who may be arriving here shortly.
In southwestern states, water is getting scarce. Ocean brine and sewers are spilling into California’s drinking supply. Water could be West Virginia’s most valuable asset in the future.
I came to Berkeley Springs for the waters and I’m not the only one. State delegates such as Mike Manypenny are introducing bills to amend Gas Act of December 2011.
So, we can keep an eye on those frackers.