of my letter is to ask you to support a comprehensive review of the existing
process used to grant permits for exploring and extracting natural resources
in West Virginia. There are
several companies presently conducting extensive gas/oil operations in
Wetzel County, and this activity has increased dramatically in the last two
I appreciate the many benefits the state and our communities gain
from these operations. Our
nation needs these resources to lessen our dependence on foreign sources of
energy. The companies conducting
these operations are engaged in a legitimate business, and they work hard to
comply with state laws and regulations.
In our community of Silver Hill, located in Wetzel County, we find
the men and women employed by these companies to be hardworking
professionals who are courteous, respectful and honest.
Nevertheless, the impact of drilling and exploration operations in
our community is profound. Our
roads have deteriorated and are almost impassable in some places.
The poor road conditions exact a heavy toll on our vehicles and our
patience. There has been a huge
increase in noise and dust as well as heavy truck traffic.
Sharing the roads with significantly
increased numbers of large vehicles and oversized loads makes driving more
dangerous and much more difficult.
There are visible environmental impacts and dramatic changes in the
landscape around well pads, and the flow of water in many streams is
affected as companies use large amounts of water for their ongoing
operations. The environmental
impacts not so easily seen are an even greater concern.
I believe there is significant potential for our underground aquifers
to be affected, which could have unforeseen and long lasting effects.
In short, the quality of life in our communities has been altered by
ongoing industrial operations in Wetzel County.
we face is that of achieving a balance that best accommodates the needs of
all parties concerned. Our
nation needs the energy, our state and local communities need the revenue
and jobs created by this activity, and the citizens in affected communities
need to know that our state government is doing everything possible to
minimize the impact on their quality of life.
research and the discussions I have had with local residents as well as
local and state officials, I believe our state lacks a comprehensive,
coordinated permitting process. It is
also clear that we suffer from ineffective enforcement of existing
regulatory guidance. The
existing process simply does not adequately address the impact of these
operations on our environment, our infrastructure, and the quality of life
for West Virginians.
We need your
support and executive leadership to initiate and guide this action.
I understand that reviewing and refining the permitting process is a
complex task, but I believe we could dramatically improve the existing
system. Much of our present
process is no doubt sound, and could be much more effective if it were
integrated with infrastructure programs and plans. Because our state
legislators have valuable experience in this area, I am also asking them to
lend their expertise to this effort.
There are a
number of intelligent, talented individuals in this community who will be
happy to work with state and local officials to improve the present
permitting processes. We want to
be a part of a positive effort, not a critical one, and we will devote our
time, our skills and our best efforts to improving the present process.
Accomplishing this will benefit the citizens of West Virginia now and our
children in the decades to come.