Pocahontas County Commission Letters To Bureau Of Land Management And Other County Commissions

Marlinton, WV –
Pocahontas County Commission letter to Bob Abbey, Bureau of Land Management Director

Dear Mr. Abbey,

We are writing in regard to Marcellus Shale drilling and related activities as they pertain to the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. On July 19th, 2011, we wrote Forest Supervisor Clyde Thompson in Elkins, West Virginia, and therein, letter attached, expressed our concerns about the impacts to water quality that drilling is likely to have. Many of our residents depend on private water wells within the National Forest and our entire county economy depends on the pristine qualities of the Monongahela Forest and the tourists and tourism dollars the forest brings to our county.

On July 28th, Mr. Thompson replied to us in part stating “The Bureau of Land Management has authority regarding down hold drilling operations. As such the Forest Service has no authority to deny the use of horizontal drilling and related practices on the Monongahela National Forest”.

Does the Bureau have total authority in this regard? Does the Forest Service have no authority to make decisions concerning drilling and similar activities upon its surface? How is it that George Washington National Forest can advance policy prohibiting horizontal drilling, yet the Monongahela cannot? Thank you and we look forward to your response on these questions.

Pocahontas County Commission letter Letter to other County Commissions in West Virginia

Dear Fellow Commissioner,

I am David Fleming, President of the Pocahontas County Commission. I and my fellow Pocahontas County Commissioners Martin Saffer and Jamie Walker are writing to you regarding Marcellus Shale drilling. In our county, a great number of our citizens are reaching out to us with their concerns surrounding the processes of drilling into the Marcellus formation. These concerns as expressed to us include high water usage requirements, horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and ground water contamination, forest fragmentation, methane infiltration and radioactivity of resurgent or recycled fracking fluids.

In addition to these environmental concerns, citizens are also sharing with us concerns over increased industrial truck traffic, 24/7 drilling noise and lights, impositions by drilling companies upon land owners’ surface rights, and the over arching realities of how this drilling enterprise affects the character of local communities in irreversible ways. Many of us Commissioners readily see the economic benefits that accompany the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus formation; increased tax revenues and job creation among others. At the same time, many of us are learning of the negative aspects of the enterprise such as those mentioned above.

For Pocahontas County specifically, the majority of our residents obtain their water from private wells. Also as the birthplace of rivers, our citizenry takes great pride in being the headwaters of eight rivers. For reasons such as these, our people are looking to us, the Pocahontas County Commission, to assert our local right to decide on the presence of Marcellus Shale drilling activity in our county.

We write to you not for the purpose of encouraging you to prevent such activity in your county, but rather to encourage you as the local leadership of your citizenry to assert your people’s rights to decide on this issue, either for or against, at the county level. An important ally in matters affecting County Commissions is the County Commissions Association of West Virginia, CCAWV. The CCAWV works with our state legislators in protecting the roles and rights of the County Commissions across our state. We ask you to contract Vivian Parsons, Executive Director of the CCAWV, and talk with her regarding the need and right of your County Commission to make local decisions on the matter of Marcellus Shale drilling.

Ms. Parsons can be reached by phone at 304-345-4639, by email Vivian@ccawv.org, or by mail at 2309 Washington Street, East Charleston, WV 25311. In addition to the CCAWV, please talk with your elected state senators and delegates to assert your county’s rights on this issue.

The growth in Marcellus Shale and related resources production brings much to bear on each county. The economic benefits might be something your people decide they need. The environmental impacts and community altering realities might be something your people might decide they cannot afford. Either way, we want Pocahontas County to have the right to decide for itself; we want your county to have that same right.

Respectfully your colleagues, David M. Fleming, Martin V. Saffer, and Jamie C. Walker.

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Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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