Here is the Environmental Council’s #1 2011 legislative priority – Marcellus Shale Drilling plus the need for more inspectors. Other items they will be following will be the Water Quality Standards Rule, Ending Coal Slurry Injection, Regulation of Coal Ash, and Renewable Energy Incentives.
The Water Quality Standards Rule (see state board report, September, 2010.) The League is particularly interested in seeing that the Total Dissolved Solids rule is approved by the legislature.
Marcellus shale. PROPOSED LEGISLATION (From the Charleston Gazette)
A legislative interim committee has been considering what measures the state should take to minimize environmental and social problems that come from drilling for gas in Marcellus Shale formations. The interim committee is looking at a 90-page draft law. One problem is that the state’s inspection program is tremendously under staffed so the draft proposes increasing permit fees to help ameliorate that problem. At present fees for shallow wells are $600 but the proposal would establish fees for Marcellus Shale drilling ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 per well. Obviously the natural gas drillers object to such rates saying they could cripple the industry. Legislation also will consider water pollution, water withdrawal and disposal, erosion, and road destruction.
The WV DEP is also preparing a bill similar to the committee’s draft. Both drafts require comprehensive water management plans, including listings of chemicals to be used in fracking fluids, and measures to control water consumption and waste. Both also require erosion and sediment-control plans, reclamation and replanting of disturbed lands, and the lining of large open pits, or impoundments, to prevent salt and chemicals from leaching out. But the committee’s version tackles some issues the DEP didn’t, including the spacing of wells, road protection and the performance bonds, which industry says would be a hardship on smaller companies. The DEP’s version will raise fees, too, but it is not known how much.