May 7, 2008
Candidate and Officeholder Responses to Questionnaire
Responses to our candidate & officeholder questionnaire are now available at our website. Click here to learn more about where candidates and officeholders stand on Surface Owners' Rights and other issues important to you.
Reminder: WV SORO Chapter/Regional Meeting
May 14 for Doddridge, Harrison & Ritchie Counties
6PM at the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center, 500 West Main Street, Clarksburg, WV
Area legislators and local officials representing Doddridge, Harrison & Ritchie counties have been invited to attend.
Agenda items for the meeting include legislative action, discussion of issues affecting surface owners and objectives for the regional chapter.
For more information contact Sharon Marshok at (304)-623-1245 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Nancy Powers at (304) 623-0482 or Nancypsalem@aol.com
Complaints: Where to File; Guidelines
In our recent newsletter we appealed to our members to file complaints with the DEP when they have unresolved problems with drilling on their property. While the industry claims the number of complaints filed backs up there assertion that there isn't a problem. However, we know that that the number of complaints is artificially low because, historically, pursuing the “official” complaint process hasn't been an effective means for surface owners to get their problems resolved. Still filing complaints is important, because it gives elected officials who may actually want to do the “right thing” the backup they need to do so.
If possible we recommend filing complaints electronically and including digital photos. Complaints should be directed to James Martin, the Chief of the Office of Oil & Gas and copy Dave Belcher, Inspector Supervisor; the inspector for you area and Gene Smith, the Regulatory/Compliance Manager. Please consider sending a copy of your complaint to your legislators and to email@example.com as well. Then follow up and let us know how the DEP responds. If we can't get the number of complaints up, we want to have some good examples of why landowners don't bother to file formal complaints more often.
Below are some guidelines from DEP on filing a complaint. For more on inspections, enforcement and filing complaints see the DEP Citizen's Guide.
- Before you file an environmental complaint it is important to understand that your name may be released by the agency. In order to remain anonymous, you must request for your complaint to remain anonymous.
- Complaints received by phone are always accepted; however, it is recommended that you follow up the phone conversation with a written complaint. The written complaint starts a paper trail that is much easier for the agency to track and monitor.
- You also should document the names of the people you contact, the dates of phone conversations, and the topic of the conversation. If you made a written complaint, keep a copy of your letter, and the written responses you receive.
- When a complaint is called in, it is important that it is delivered to the appropriate field office. If you want to speak to the inspector personally, your call may need to be transferred to a field office. Be patient. It may seem as though you are being given the runaround, but we want to connect you to the correct office.
- The response time for an inspector to visit the site of the complaint may depend on the urgency of the complaint. The inspectors are assigned to specific areas of the state, and most inspectors serve several counties and many facilities.
- When filing a complaint, it is extremely helpful to the agency if you explain your problem in as much detail as possible. Include information like: the time and date the problem occurred; the exact location to be investigated as well as directions to the site; a phone number so the inspector can call you; explicit details of the problem.