From WV Metro News earlier this evening:
Senate Finance passes 3-year steam coal tax cut
Senator Doug Facemire (D – Braxton) stated the obvious:
“Are we helping the miners and the counties, or are we just going to stick this money the coal companies’ pockets?” Facemire asked.
The Senate budget bill reduces higher education funding, he said, and the roads are falling apart.
“We stand on the wealthiest ground in the country and we’re the 48th or 50th poorest state,” he added later.
I agree, Senator. See here.
Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Kate Mishkin has an excellent article posted earlier today that I assume will be in tomorrow’s Charleston Gazette-Mail:
WV Legislature doing little to help residents affected by natural gas drilling
Mishkin’s article describes the frustration of local residents dealing with nearby fracking:
With days left in the legislative session, proponents of reform have essentially given up. The deadline has passed for bills to initially clear the House, and lawmakers and groups that have pushed for protection for residents have moved on to other issues.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, a Democrat from Monongalia County, in the northern part of the state, sponsored legislation this year to increase the distance between drilling and homes. But even early in the session, she gave it little chance of passing and said she’s now focused on legislation that would protect women from discrimination and unequal pay.
Her bill would increase the “limit of disturbance” of a drilling operation from 625 feet to 1,500 feet of a home, meaning people would be farther removed from the noise, dust and light. It also would require drilling companies to set up real-time monitoring and compensate landowners for any property value decrease.
She’s introduced similar bills every year since 2015, but they’ve never made it out of the House of Delegates Energy Committee.
Not unlike the coal industry, the WV legislature answers only to the natural gas companies:
“There’s no explanation I can come up with for why these study recommendations have just sat there, other than complete political paralysis when it comes to doing anything that may draw industry opposition,” Rosser said.
(Note -- Angie Rosser is executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.)
Just released from Pro Publica: A detailed (and interactive) map of West Virginia fracking
Want to know where all 1,470 of WV’s natural gas well pads are? Pro Publica’s Al Shaw and Kate Mishkin (see above) put together this interactive map locating all of West Virginia’s well pads. (The map is excellent -- if you live near one, you can even spot your house.) It works with their Pro Publica article published earlier today:
A Guide to Every Permitted Natural Gas Well in West Virginia