On Saturday, December 1, 2012 the State Board of the West Virginia League of Women Voters voted unanimously in favor of signing on to a “Call for a Moratorium on New Permits for Natural Gas Wells”. In doing so, we join several other organizations who want to send this strong message to leadership in our state:
In accordance with West Virginia Code establishing the Department of Environmental Protection:
Chapter 22, Article 1-1 (a) The Legislature finds that: (1) Restoring and protecting the environment is fundamental to the health and welfare of individual citizens, and our government has a duty to provide and maintain a healthful environment for our citizens.
We, the undersigned, call for a moratorium on new permits for natural gas wells until the following minimum requirements are met:
- No new permits should be issued until DEP inspections of drilling operations and gas wells become mandatory. The WV DEP must determine the number of active wells that an inspector can effectively oversee and limit the number of permits issued to the corresponding number of inspectors on staff.
- No new permits should be granted until tracers are added to the hydraulic fracturing fluids so groundwater contamination from drilling operations can be identified.
- No new permits should be issued until a closed-loop process is mandated for drilling and hydraulic fracturing. In order to protect the state’s surface and groundwater, no waste or flowback, solid or liquid, should be applied to or buried on the land.
- No new permits should be granted until all hazardous materials are disposed of in hazardous waste facilities.
- No new permits should be issued until Home Rule is honored. Local towns and counties must be allowed to control whether, where and when hydraulic fracturing is done in their communities, including control of the roads and hours where trucks hauling drilling equipment and supplies are allowed to operate.
- No new permits should be issued until air pollution emissions are monitored and regulated and pollution controls are required on all gas facilities.
- No new permits should be issued until West Virginia citizens are guaranteed a permanent replacement if their source of clean water becomes contaminated at any time within 1 mile of a natural gas drilling operation unless another source of pollution can be proven.
We know that the legislation adopted in December, 2011 was grossly inadequate, and does not provide the basic protections needed by West Virginia citizens. Yet permits for new wells continue to be issued, leaving landowners and local citizens helpless to stop the dangers in their neighborhood. Natural gas development can be done right, but today, it is being done wrong, and that needs to stop. Right Now!