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Steve Conlon's Letter to the Editor of The Intelligencer


June 25, 2009

Wednesday's article on Chesapeake Energy's activities in Marshall and Wetzel counties needs some additional comments before it can be termed "fair and balanced". CHK invited the reporter to a "dog and pony show". Local politicians, who have been too busy to tour the area with local citizens, suddenly lined up to go on the orchestrated tour. Naturally, it was a pretty quiet day in the footprint of CHK's activity. No school buses, no oversize rigs trying to scale Mount Wetzel. No dust blowing, no water trucks helping themselves to our precious water, no torn down power lines, no road blockages. In fact, CHK felt so sure that nothing would happen that day, that they invited local fire depts. and emergency crews.

   CHK's Mike John said," It's great for residents, we are able to minimize impact to the area." He is either clueless or a liar. The impact has certainly been dramatic in terms of accidents, citations, road destruction, water pollution, air quality, depressed home values and lowered quality of life.

 Unfortunately, Mike John didn't live in the footprint in BC (before Chesapeake),nor did Mr. Manchin, Mr. Kessler, Mr. Pethtel or Mr. Edgell. If only one important person lived in this footprint, residents wouldn't be suffering as they are. It can be managed and profitable for all concerned. However, it continues to be poorly managed and Chesapeake is continually scrambling to make people feel good about them. Full time PR people just for Wetzel County, a hired vendor to oversee a community advisory panel, a million bucks to WVU, sponsorships on WV Public Radio, a load of gravel here and there, and front row seats with food to the Pirates games are some of the numerous ways that CHK attempts to calm the waters.

  Mike John went on to say, "We go out of our way to do things right. Our drilling operations are pretty self-sufficient. We are going to pave 8 miles of road." The rest of the story is that 2500 gallon fuel tankers deliver diesel fuel continually . Hundreds of sub contractors from all over help make these wells productive. There is no self sufficiency here. Chesapeake goes out of their way to get gas, not do things right. It is cheaper to give away Pirates tickets than to do things right. Road impact has been so dramatic, that grown men working for WVDOH have crawled under their desks in bewilderment. Since when does the DOH abandon the maintenance of frequently travelled roads? Apparently both CHK and WVDOH feel that infrastructure destruction is acceptable.

  Look that gift horse in the mouth. Don't buy a pig in a poke. When CHK says they are going to do you a world of good and that they have minimal impact, start asking questions.

  Perhaps the most entertaining moment of the dog and pony show occurred when the host asked , "has anyone been to this well?" A lone young man replied that he had been there four times. " As a volunteer fireman, I was here when a worker broke his leg, when the lithium batteries exploded ,when a worker was hit with a pipe, when the water truck rolled over the hill, when the oversize rig tore down the electric lines...and ..."