From the Sierra Club:
“Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied” to the Marcellus Select Committee
Actually, with your help we won’t have to apply pressure endlessly to get the Marcellus gas bill we need - but we do need to apply it now!
The Select Committee working on the Marcellus bill has made some real progress. They have added several amendments to the bill that came out of the West Virginia Senate in March but didn’t pass the House because of time constraints. The bill is a good start, and the amendments are filling in critical elements.
We need to apply that seemingly “endless pressure” when the committee meets again this week. Why?
Ø We need to thank the committee for the good work they have done so far. Specifically, we need to give them kudos for passing some very important amendments to the bill, amendments that fill in some of the critical protections missing in the bill. The committee members are human, too, and a little positive feedback can only help our cause.
Ø There are still some very important amendments left that the committee needs to pass and add to the bill. We need to “endlessly apply” the pressure by strongly urging them to do that.
Read on for more details:
1. What the amendments we still need are about.
2. The dates when you should take action.
3. Select Committee membership and phone numbers.
4. Suggested “talking points” you can use, if you want, to frame your comment.
1. The amendments we still need.
Pending - Casing and Cement Requirements - Bolstering casing and cementing requirements. Groundwater is at risk when casing and cementing are not adequate or done properly, or when cementing is not allowed to cure properly. This is where we now see most of the risk to groundwater. It should be required to monitor and control annulus pressure, permanently retain complete well cementing records, carefully define protected water supplies and create standardized investigation procedures.
Pending - Surface Owners Agreement - Protecting the landowner in case of damage from drilling operations. Like the rest of the bill,applicability is limited to horizontal wells only. Surface owners have been asking for similar requirements for ALL wells for more than 4 years. And folks really need more time. They only have 20 days to accept or reject the proposed surface use and compensation agreement and after 30 days if there is no agreement the driller can begin operations after posting a surety bond of $25,000. 60 days would be more reasonable.
Pending - Well Location Restrictions - Keeping wells and well pads a safe distance (1000 feet) from water wells, springs, homes, barns, etc.With current technology, operators can drill horizontally 12,000 feet (more than 2 miles), so there’s no reason they need to be closer than 1,000 feet from peoples’ homes.
Even that may not be far enough away and the amendment allows the driller to get a variance. A firm 1,000 feet would be more protective. There is concern that DEP will just rubber stamp and go along with any excuse/reason the companies come up with for why they need a variance. If they can be closer there should at least be some other conditions/standards that the driller has to meet. There is language in the proposed amendment that gives that discretion to the DEP, but it would be better to spell out what those conditions should be. For example, there are specific things they could do to mitigate noise from the sites, which is what most complaints are about.
Pending - Protection of Water Supplies – Well operator is responsible for the pollution of a water supply that is within 2,500 feet of a horizontal gas well. The draft of the amendment we saw included a six-month limitation on claims of contamination. This is insufficient, to say the least. When a contaminant plume enters an aquifer it may take years, or decades to pass by an individual well.
2. We are asking everyone to call ANY or ALL members of the Select Committee today,
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11. They will meet at 4PM Wednesday Oct. 12 and 10AM Thursday Oct. 13 in the Capitol in Charleston. Calling on Wednesday before their 4PM meeting will also be good. The committee members will be there, and their staffers, who can answer the phone and take your message.
3. Joint Select Committee on Marcellus Shale - members and their Capitol phone numbers
Senator Doug Facemire - Chair - (304) 357-7845
Senator Karen Facemyer - (304) 357-7855
Senator Orphy Klempa - (304) 357-7918
Senator Corey Palumbo - (304) 357-7880
Senator Herb Snyder - (304) 357-7957
Delegate Tim Manchin - Chair - (304) 340-3166
Delegate Bill Anderson - (304) 340-3168
Delegate Thomas Campbell - (304) 340-3280
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer - (304) 340-3169
Delegate Woody Ireland - (304) 340-3195
4. Talking Points when you call the senators and delegates on the Select Committee. [names and phone numbers above]
· Be courteous and respectful. Remember you get more with honey than with vinegar.
· Be brief, and stay focused. Make your point, and don’t let the person you’re talking with change the subject. Stick to your intended message.
· Thank the senator or delegate for what the Select Committee has accomplished thus far. The Committee has passed 22 important amendments strengthening the bill. However, thank the Committee, not the individual - that senator or delegate may, or may not, have voted for the good amendments.
· Ask the Committee to “finish its work,” by passing the remaining pending amendments. See above for what those amendments are.
· Call as many Select Committee members as you can, please!
Once the Select Committee has finished its work, we will need to do more, when the bill and amendments have to go to the whole Legislature for its approval. We’ll need to renew the famous “endless pressure” again at that time.
Thank you so much for all you do for the West Virginia environment.