Tag Archives: monroe county

Please Respond by 10pm Tonight – Support the Ban on Horizontal Drilling (Fracking) in the George Washington National Forest

Support the Ban on Horizontal Drilling (Fracking) in the George Washington National Forest

428 acres of which are located in Monroe County.

This ban is proposed by the Forest Service in their Draft Management Plan which was released for public review in 2011.

URGENT: IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED (please respond by return email before Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 10 pm)

If you would like to support this action, please GO HERE and send us a note with your name and we will add you to our petition of supporters…thank you!

Dear Supporters,

The US Forest Service is in the process of making their final decision on whether or not to allow fracking in the George Washington National Forest, 428 acres of which are located in Monroe County (see map below). Many counties and cities in Virginia have written letters supporting the ban on fracking proposed by the US Forest Service in their Draft Management Plan, released for public review in 2011. (See June 5, 2013 Watchman article below). Nevertheless, recent pressure from the gas industry could cause the Forest Service to withdraw the ban from the Final Management Plan which will govern activity in the forest for the next 15-20 years. While the amount of recoverable gas in this area of the Marcellus may not be significant, the Utica shale which lies under it could contain significant reserves.

SWTO prepared an informational packet for each of our County Commissioners and attended their meeting on Wednesday, June 5th to request that they write a letter to the US Forest Service in support of the ban. It would be helpful for the Commissioners to hear from their constituents.

If you would like to sign the following letter encouraging the County Commission to let the US Forest Service know that Monroe County, WV supports the ban on fracking in the GW National Forest, PLEASE send your response by return email with your full name, place of residence and zipcode. Husbands, wives and children of voting age may sign separately.

Example: Please sign my name – JOHN DOE, Union, 24983


Letter to the County Commission from the Residents of Monroe County

To the attention of Shane Ashley, Bill Miller and Clyde Gum:

Dear Commissioners,

We, the undersigned citizens of Monroe County respectfully urge our County Commission to write a letter to the U.S. Forest Service supporting the ban on horizontal drilling (fracking) in the George Washington National Forest, 428 acres of which are located in Monroe County. This ban is proposed by the Forest Service in their Draft Management Plan which was released for public review in 2011.

A ban on horizontal drilling in the forest will protect drinking water supplies, enable ongoing recreational use of the forest and preserve the forest for future generations.

List of Monroe County Residents

Article in The Watchmen, June 5, 2013

The beautiful George Washington and Jefferson National Forests combine to form one of the largest areas of public land on the east coast. Together, they cover vast sections of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The George Washington National Forest alone hosts more than a million visitors each year and is a direct source of drinking water for over 262,000 people including the residents of Monroe County who live in the 71 square mile area located within the West Virginia portion of the James River Watershed. The entire forest is located within the watersheds of the James and Potomac Rivers which together supply drinking water to the 4.5 million people living in northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area.

The US Forest Service is currently in the process of revising the George Washington National Forest Land Management Plan. 428 acres of the GW National Forest are located in Monroe County, approximately 3 miles northeast of Moncove Lake State Park, the county’s recreational haven. The beautiful Cove Creek originates from springs in this pastoral section of the county and winds through the heart of the 428 national forest acres, known as the Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area (see map).

The Forest Service released a Draft Plan for public review and comment in 2011 recommending a ban on fracking (horizontal drilling) in the GW Forest.* Without this ban, the Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area and other sections of the GW National Forest would be open for fracking. A ban of this type would contribute to preserving the integrity of the forest but would not affect shale gas development on private land.

Soon after the release of the Draft Plan, 11 local governments surrounding the GW submitted letters in support of the Forest Service’s proposed ban: Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, and Staunton, and the counties of Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Rockingham, and Shenandoah. They expressed concerns over fracking in the GW and characterized the decision made by the Forest Service as a well-justified and sensible precaution in light of the documented environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. Additionally, comments supporting the Forest Service’s proposed ban were filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and two major metropolitan water suppliers—the Fairfax County Water Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct, which supplies Washington, D.C. and Arlington County and Falls Church, VA.**

Bipartisan public opinion has also come out strongly in favor of not opening up the GW to horizontal drilling. Over 95% of the 53,000 people who submitted comments to the Forest Service, support the Forest Service decision to ban horizontal drilling for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest.***

In support of the ban, former USDA Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Rupert Cutler sent a letter to his successor, the Honorable Harris Sherman, USDA Undersecretary urging him to use his “authority to prevent the opening of the George Washington National Forest to hydro-fracking for the development of natural gas.”****

This summer, the U.S. Forest Service is expected to release the final forest management plan for the GW, which will guide all activity in the over one million-acre forest for the next 15-20 years. Although the Forest Service is aware of the potential threat fracking would pose to public water supplies, fish and wildlife habitat, and the recreational opportunities in the GW, due to pressure from the gas industry, there is a possibility the Forest Service would withdraw the proposed ban on fracking.

The Forest Service listens to the public and was instrumental in keeping the APCO power line out of Monroe County. In a recent phone conversation, US Forest Service Planning Staff Officer Ken Landgraf expressed his keen interest in hearing the opinion of a County Commission in the West Virginia section of the GW National Forest. It is not too late for residents to ask the Monroe County Commission to submit a letter supporting the ban on fracking proposed by the Forest Service. For individual Monroe County residents, there is still time to send public comments and letters to the US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (agsec@usda.gov)

Footnotes & References

* To view a summary of the 2011 Draft Forest Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, please go to: https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5323642.pdf To view the entire 2011 Draft Forest Plan, please go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5297819.pdf

** To view the letters from cities and counties in Virginia supporting the ban on fracking, go to: http://www.svnva.org/index.cfm/1,135,529,0,html/County-City-Urge-Forest-Officials-to-Protect-Water.

*** Analysis of the 53,000 public comments was compiled by the Shenandoah Valley Network, a Virginia based non-profit organization whose Public and Local Government Comment Analysis (2012)is available at http://www.svnva.org/ass/library/10/svn-gwnf-comment-analysis-2012.pdf.

All the comments are available on the US government website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/landmanagement/?cid=stelprdb5337589

**** Excerpt from the letter to the Honorable Harris Sherman, USDA Undersecretary, quoted by permission from Rupert Cutler.

Earth Day – Celebrate Monroe County’s Clean Water with SavetheWaterTable.org

Event Details

When: Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 6PM

Description: Free Dinner: Ham, Beans, Coleslaw, Cornbread, Dessert, Tea, Coffee, & Monroe County Water

Location: Union Rescue Squad Bldg., Pump St., Union, WV (1 block behind Courthouse)

Speakers & Presentations: learn about the lesser-publicized effects of unconventional drilling (fracking) as experienced by northern WV residents.

Question/answer period to follow.

Facebook Event Link: Click Here

Official Release

Celebrate Monroe County’s Clean Water on Earth Day with SWTO.org (Save the Water Table) – Free Ham Dinner and Sweet Springs Water

SavetheWaterTable.org is pleased to host a public meeting on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2013 at the Union Rescue Squad Building on Pump Street (one block behind the Court House) in Union, WV at 6:00 PM.

Speakers will include: Diane L. Pitcock, WV Host Farms Program Administrator, M.S., C.A.G.S., Adult & Community Educ., Johns Hopkins University, who will present a program re: Marcellus shale drilling and some of its lesser-publicized affects on West Virginia landowners; and Theresa Higgins, who will discuss her first-hand experiences with fracking as a resident in northern WV. Question and answer period to follow.

A free ham, bean and cornbread dinner will be served beginning at 6:00. Speakers will begin at 7:00. Join us, bring a friend and celebrate our clean water and beautiful environment while learning more about what is currently happening with unconventional gas drilling (fracking) in WV.

Stand Up for Monroe County, Greenville, WV

Stand Up for Monroe County, Greenville, WV

Stand Up for Monroe County, Greenville, WV. Photo credit: Elora McKenzie

Monroe County citizens gather to sign petitions on STAND UP FOR MONROE day December 10th, 2011. The Greenville location pictured in the photo above was one of 8 locations provided throughout the county by local businesses. To date (as of mid-December, the numbers have grown, update soon), the ongoing Save theWater Table initiative has gathered 515 signatures to restore our delegate and 820 signatures to ban shale gas development.

The petitions target two goals: 1) to uphold the democratic process and 2) to buy time for Monroe County until natural gas can be extracted without causing detriment to public health and to the environment. STAND UP FOR MONROE tables will continue to operate at the Union location in front of the Silver Birch, between the courthouse and gas station and at the Barn Store in Gap Mills.

Contact the DEP and Tell Them NO PERMIT for Boyd Road Site

Loyal supporters of clean water,

We are at a very important crossroads, ladies and gentlemen of Monroe County and neighboring areas.  Gordy Oil has filed for an application do drill and ultimately, hydro-frack in Monroe County.  The site is off Boyd Road in Wayside.  This is all publicly known information.

The site is less than a mile from two different caves and Salt Peter Cave is not much farther away.  North of the site and south of the site are known karst regions.  There are residents local to the area that claim to know of a sinkhole that has been covered in within the immediate vicinity of the site.

The site sits in a field below a mountain ridge.  Water drains downhill, and downhill from the drill site is karst riddled topography – land perforated with sinkholes.  Functionally, that is no different than drilling directly in karst from a vulnerability perspective.

The Salt Peter Cave offers housing to the Indiana bat, an animal on the federal endangered species list, of which only SEVEN were observed in 2010.  The operation in that area could directly or indirectly impact the health of those bats.  There are nearby wild trout streams as well that could be impacted.

Current law only requires the drilling company to test and monitor water in a 1000 foot radius from the well site, yet water can travel for miles underground in our county.

There has not been a comprehensive study completed to consider the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human or animal life in general, let alone in this particular area.

The EPA is conducting such a study (on fracking in general), and their initial results are expected in 2012.

In Charleston, the work continues to revise a new set of regulations for natural gas drillers that may (or may not) be voted into law before March 12th – but currently, those regulations are not in place, meaning we are operating under old, outdated, and insufficient regulations.

An approved permit now would mean the drilling company would be “grandfathered in” even if new regulations do pass.  For a period of two years, they could operate under existing, broken law.

Randy Huffman, a boss over at the DEP, has noted publicly that we do not have enough inspectors to cover the workload in this state.

There are 17 inspectors in the state and 55K active wells, and some 12K inactive wells (thousands of which must be capped and have not yet been).  Based on recent information, there are some 1500 new wells already permitted.  We cannot handle the current, active workload and yet we are still permitting new wells.  Why!?!

Let’s just take the 55K currently active wells.

That means in WV, we have 0.00030909 INSPECTORS PER ACTIVE WELL.

Even with good regulations (which we do not have), it is not possible to enforce regulations anyway because we don’t have the manpower to do so.  The DEP admits this, and is working on finding additional funding for more inspectors.  That funding and the resultant new inspectors do not currently exist.

The site is VERY close to sensitive and vulnerable karst; new regulations are still not in place; there are not sufficient DEP inspectors.

>> Please contact the permitting officers of the DEP Office of Oil & Gas and tell them SAY NO TO THE BOYD ROAD PERMIT!








Office of Oil & Gas : Contact Page

>> Please contact the US Fish & Wildlife Service and tell them your concerns as well!

Bat specialist : barbara_douglas@fws.gov
304.636.6586 x19

Director : deb_carter@fws.gov
304.636.6586 x12

Monroe County Residents Have Reservations Over Gas ‘Fracking’

By Kate Coil for The Register-Herald : Mon Jan 17, 2011, 12:02 AM EST

UNION — Though acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has announced he intends to utilize the natural gas of the Marcellus shale, residents of Monroe County, who live above the shale, say drilling into the area will decimate their culture, safety and even endangered species in the area.

Jill Fischer, co-president of the Save the Water Table organization, said drilling on the Marcellus shale puts citizens at risk.

“It sounds to me like Gov. Tomblin wants to exploit West Virginia,” Fischer said. “The state has been a supplier of the nation’s coal and supplies power and industry. Though we supply all of these corporations, if you look around at our income, health and other factors, we are at the bottom when compared to every other state.

“What has been exploited in West Virginia is not our natural resources but our people. We are facing a pretty hard thing. When it comes to them prospecting for drilling sites, Monroe County’s prospects aren’t good.”

Fischer said county residents are working to prevent hydrofracture drilling or “fracking” in their area. Fracking is a process in which a well is drilled several thousand feet into the ground. From that one well, several other well holes are then created in a variety of directions with multiple horizontal bores, covering a wide area underground.

Next, Fischer said around 1 million to 2 million gallons of water are injected into the well holes, augmented with various chemicals to release natural gas within the shale. Each drilling site requires 4 to 5 acres of land and are in constant operation.

Fischer said Save the Water Table has been working to energize the rural communities in Monroe County about the issue.

Continue reading

Monroe County Commission + WVU Extension : Meeting on Gas Drilling

Location: James Monroe High School Auditorium

Date & Time: November 22nd, 2010 at 6:30pm

Description: The Monroe County Commission in partnership with WVU Extension presents an Educational meeting on Gas Drilling on November 22, 2010 at 6:30pm at James Monroe High School Auditorium.

Presentations by: Monroe County Planning Commission and the WVU Water Research Institute

Summary of Planning Commission’s fact-finding trips into the gas fields of West/Central Pennsylvania and North Central and Northern WV.

Presentation by WVU Water Research Institute on hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Questions and Answers follow presentations.