Most of us don’t take part in government; we just sort of let it happen to us. We get involved in our job or business; don’t pay much attention to who is running for office or what the legislature is doing.
For farmers and people living in the countryside, that is not a good idea right now. Things that go back to common law, far back in our history, are literally “up for grabs in the legislature.”
Our trespassing protection is one right we have that the drilling companies want to do away with as it presently stands, they cannot come on your property to survey rights-of-way for pipelines and roads and well pads without your permission.
HB 4168 would allow them to walk on and do all the surveying they want without your saying a word. That makes it quick and easy and all the gas company officials have to do is draw a line on the map on your property where they want to go and send the surveying crews out to do it without regard for your “No Trespassing” signs.
That means, they can alter your landscape to fit the company’s needs, with no warning or notice.
A big second issue is Forced Pooling, now called the Co-tenancy Bill, HB4268. This would allow a driller to come on a surface owner’s property and build a pad to access adjacent properties, without compensation to the surface owner.
Pads drilled previously had only a few wells and involved rocking the pad and roads with crushed stone to a depth that allowed heavy trucks in all weather. That could wipe out the worth of a small, 25 to 50 acres farm.
Pads now envisioned would support up to 40 wells and use concrete pads. They would cover 10 to 15 acres; divert rainwater off that, with attendant erosion problems.
Such super-pads would leak fracking chemicals proportionally to the number of wells and increase the likelihood of ground water contamination in that proportion, also.
This would reduce the value of even larger farms, up to several hundred acres to the point they would be useless to current owners.
A recent study showed West Virginia is 5th in the world among good places to drill, based on our laws and enforcement. Ohio and Pennsylvania are down the list, at the 20s or 30s level, so we don’t have to worry about driving drillers off.
These companies don’t need subsidies from private individuals, who would be ruined.
Every one of us should call or email every member of the WV Legislature now in session and your local representatives.
Jane Lew, WV