Guest Editorial

The new gas regulations recently passed by the WV legislature called the Horizontal Well Act provides more protection for trout than to the humans in our state who are not served by public water but must depend upon private water sources like springs and wells. 

 Wouldn’t you think that these people who number more than 343,000 or almost double the population of Kanawha County, would at least get the same protection as a trout stream?  Instead trout streams and even public water supplies have gas well setback distances measured from the edge of a gas well pad whereas those who depend upon private water sources have a setback distance measured from the well bore.  And as the width of the well pad gets wider, the private water source moves closer to the edge of the pad.  If one assumes, for the sake of argument, the well bore is in the center of the gas well pad then once the pad reaches 500 feet in width the private water source will be at the edge of the pad and a pad over 500 feet puts the private source within the pad itself.

 The House Judiciary added an amendment to the bill for the WV DEP to do studies on noise, light, dust and VOC pollution to determine if the bill’s gas well setback from a dwelling needs to be changed.  There was no such amendment added for a study to determine if the gas well setback from private water sources needs greater protection.

So why did this legislature give more protection to trout streams than private water sources?  Because the gas industry wanted a low number attached to the gas well setback distance from private water sources and Governor Tomblin chose to give it to them.   In fact, this 250 foot setback from the gas well bore and the private water source is only 50 feet more than what has been on the books for 30 years.  Tomblin and the WV legislature chose to kowtow to the gas industry at the expense of those more than 343,000 individuals who depend upon private water sources.  Shame on them.
Letty Butcher

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