West Virginia Host Farms Program is a volunteer-based initiative. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for the environmental community to study the impact of Marcellus shale natural gas drilling in the state. This would include academic researchers, journalists, environmental scientists, public policy and environmental law professionals, and advocacy groups, among others who desire to learn more about the environmental impact of Marcellus shale drilling in WV. WV landowners who opt to participate in the program become volunteer “host farms.” These are people who are living on or in close proximity to land where Marcellus wells are already drilled, Marcellus drilling and hydrofracking is currently taking place, or where such activity is proposed to take place in the near future. Landowners living adjacent or in close proximity to compressor stations are also participants in the program.
In West Virginia, little environmental research is being conducted on the impact of Marcellus shale drilling and how it affects the people of West Virginia, their farms, their health, safety, and their environment. Oil and gas corporations and their lobbying groups operating in West Virginia have funded numerous research projects through grants and other allocations which explore the economic benefits of Marcellus shale drilling for the state and its citizens. But it is difficult to locate a comparable volume of research projects underway that give equal attention to the environmental aspects of Marcellus shale drilling in WV.
The intent of the program is to provide a platform through which environmental science faculty and students, health professionals, environmental advocacy groups, environmental law and public policy professionals, journalists, and others can easily access West Virginia to study Marcellus shale drilling. It is access into West Virginia that many in the environmental community believe has previously been difficult to obtain.
The willingness of WV landowners to make available their private properties for the benefit of promoting environmental research opportunities is what the WV Host Farms Program is all about. In much the same manner as hosting a foreign exchange student in one’s home during their study abroad, the WV Host Farms Program offers to the environmental community a large networked group of West Virginia landowners.