On May 5, 2011, the Dominion Post carried an article announcing that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had permitted Northeast Natural Energy to build two “frack” wells in Morgantown's Industrial Park, within a mile of city limits. The wells are located 3000 feet from the city's water intake on the Monongahela River, and just below Skyview Elementary and Westwood Middle School. A week later the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection also permitted a “frack” water waste storage facility in the same area.
Morgantown issued a ban on hydraulic fracturing within and up to one mile outside its borders on June 23, 2011. On June 30, Northeast Natural Energy sued the city of Morgantown for its decision.
What is Fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing is a method of extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale or other geological layers containing natural gas. Fracking involves using millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand at very high pressure to fracture the rock layer and release natural gas.
The chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are extremely dangerous. Of the 649 chemicals identified in the fluid, 55% are known to cause brain and nervous system damage. Across the country there have been many reports of contaminated water, air pollution, mysterious illnesses, explosions, and accidents due to fracking, some in West Virginia.
What about Regulation?
During the Bush administration fracking was exempt from key provisions of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Superfund Act. In West Virginia, regulation to protect the public and environment from harm by the industry is nonexistent. Efforts to draft regulations have been repeatedly defeated. The US EPA is currently conducting a study to determine safety issues in order to construct regulations. Study results are not due until 2012.
Meanwhile, new permits are constantly being issued and companies continue to drill and frack without regulation.
What is WV4MOM?
West Virginia For a Moritorium on Marcellus is a concerned citizens group working to initiate a Moratorium on fracking in Monongalia County until further research and regulation is done.
What can I do to get involved?
Check the events section of this website to find a community meeting and attend. Write a letter to Governor Tomblin and your local representatives, templates for these are on the letter writing section of the site. Research Marcellus drilling on your own, take a look at pro-drilling propoganda and check that against EPA and University research.