April 22, 2008
Upcoming Events: WV SORO Meetings in Danville and Clarksburg
Thursday, April 24, 2008 ~ WV SORO Regional Meeting in Danville
6PM to 8PM, Danville Community Center, 731 Hopkins Road, Danville, WV
The meeting will include a presentation & question and answer session on surface owners' rights, a discussion of legislative options for expanding surface owners' rights in West Virginia and actions people can take to help make these need changes happen.
For more information contact Norm at (304)346-5891 or email@example.com
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 ~ WV SORO Regional Chapter Meeting in Clarksburg
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.
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.
We are planning meetings for Putnam and Jackson counties. More details coming soon.
Responses Candidate and Officeholder Questionnaire Available Soon
We have had a good response to the questionnaire we sent to current statewide officeholders, legislators and candidates for those offices. We are in the process of compiling their responses, as well as the responses we received from county commissioners and commission candidates, and hope to have them ready to share with you next week.
State Journal Criticizes WV SORO: Publisher's Column & Our Response
Last week, State Journal publisher Dan Page's column was critical of WV SORO and our recent appeal to members to file complaints with the DEP when they have unresolved problems with drilling on their property. Click here to read Mr. Page's column then read on for our response:
In Dan Page’s column last week, the response from the oil & gas industry proved our point. Our group, the WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, is attempting to counter industry assertions that “there really is no problem in the oil & gas fields since there are very few complaints filed with DEP” by asking our members to go ahead and file a written complaint concerning unresolved problems with drilling on their land.
Nobody has suggested that the industry has made up the numbers regarding complaints filed with DEP. Our response is 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. Surface owners call in to us about industry abuses every day, yet the industry claims there's no problem because the complaints aren't made to DEP.
Our efforts to have property owners file formal written complaints whenever they have an unresolved issue with drilling on their property (rather than just a phone call to blow off steam) is merely a way to ensure that the DEP is hearing from both sides. Yet the industry now claims it is irresponsible to encourage citizens to seek redress from the agency charged with enforcing drilling laws and regulations. If citizens do not make their voices heard they will not get the rights and protections they deserve.
We recognize that the DEP does not have enough inspectors to do their job properly. The Oil & Gas division issues 3,000 drilling permits a year and yet has only 16 inspectors to cover the whole state. West Virginia now has 45,000 active wells. That’s not counting the 10,000 inactive wells that, if ignored, pose a serious threat to our groundwater. There is much improvement needed in both the DEP’s capacity to enforce existing laws and adjustments of West Virginia code to make the drilling process more equitable to surface owners.
Mr. Page’s column suggests that WV Citizen Action Group and the WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization are targeting the industry because of its success and repeats the industry’s misrepresentation of us as radicals who want to put them out of business. These allegations are simply not true. Our country must strive for greater domestic energy production. We just want the drilling companies to be good neighbors and do what is right and fair for landowners.
We would like to invite Mr. Page to one of our town hall meetings that regularly turn out 100 to 150 angry citizens having serious problems with drilling on their land. There he would get an unfiltered message on the real scope of current problems in the oil & gas fields of West Virginia – without any “spin” whatsoever.
Executive Director, WV Citizen Action Group
Organizer, WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization