WV SORO Update Archive

April 19, 2013

House Modifies "Halliburton Amendment"; Legislature Approves Horizontal Well Rule

This is just a quick update to let folks know what happened with the "Halliburton amendment" to DEP's Horizontal Well Rule.

As we previously reported, the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining (EIM) Committee adopted an amendment that weakens the provisions of the rule that require disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The amendment was adopted due to pressure from Halliburton.

This amendment allows operators and their service providers to keep not only the concentrations of additives secret, but also the identity of specific chemicals in those additives. As adopted, it also required health care providers to sign confidentiality agreements and provide a written statement of need in order to obtain information about the identity or concentration of a chemical designated as a confidential trade secret.

House Judiciary Committee members made the amendment less onerous for health care providers, by eliminating the requirement that they must sign confidentiality agreements and replacing it with a provisions that says the driller/operator “may provide notice” to doctors that disclosing information designated a confidential trade secret to others for any purpose other than diagnosis or treatment of a patient may subject them to legal action by the driller or its contractors. The amendment to the amendment was offered by Delegates Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) and Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie). 

Another successful change offered by Fleischauer and Ireland requires that the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for chemicals that will be used at the well site be included in the well site safety plan, and that operator provide a copy of the plan to the surface owners and owners of water wells or developed springs within 1,500 feet of a proposed gas well.

However, as we recently learned from our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the problem with relying on MSDS sheets in an emergency is that many MSDS list information as proprietary or incomplete.  In fact, a study by the Endocrine Disruption Exchange of MSDSs used in an oil and gas context found that 43% of the MSDSs they analyzed reported less than 1% of the total composition of the product. Only 14% of the MSDSs provided information on the complete contents.  This is why we need comprehensive chemical disclosure laws. 

Regrettably, a proposal by Delegates Fleischauer, Manypenny and Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson) to strike the Halliburton amendment altogether was not adopted. 

You can read more details of what transpired in the House Judiciary Committee here

Ultimately, the House of Delegates approved the Horizontal Well Rule with the changes adopted by the Judiciary Committee and the Senate agreed to accept these changes. 

Upcoming Events of Interest ~ This Weekend & Next Week

Sunday, April 21, 2013 ~ 2-5PM at the Warwood Garden Park in Wheeling, WV
Informational gathering and protest regarding the proposed Green Hunter Water facility, which would treat and recycle waste water generated by Marcellus Shale development. The plan will be located just 1.2 miles upstream from Wheeling's water plant.

Sunday’s event will feature music, speakers, information tables, activities for children and more.
For more information contact Patricia Jacobson at jacobson64@gmail.com

Warwood Getting Frack Water Plant
New Frack Plant Faces Opposition
Project Criticism Growing

Monday, April 22, 2013 ~ 6PM at the Union Rescue Squad Building on Pump Street in Union, WV
Celebrate Monroe County's Clean Water on Earth Day with SavetheWaterTable.org.
Speakers will include WV Host Farms Program Administrator Diane Pitcock, who will present a program on Marcellus shale drilling and some of its lesser-publicized affects on West Virginia landowners.  Question and answer period to follow. A free ham, bean and cornbread dinner will be served beginning at 6PM. Speakers will begin at 7PM. The Rescue Squad Building is one block behind the Court House.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 ~ 4PM in the Commissioner's Room at the Doddridge County Court House, West Union, WV
A special meeting of the Doddridge County Commission will be held to address the county's revised floodplain ordinance. The ordinance is being revised in response to a successful challenge by landowner Joye Huff of a flood plain permit the County Commission issued to EQT last year. 

Even though the Huff and her family own the land/meadow where EQT wanted to place 60,000 cubic yards of fill for the construction of a 7-acre well pad, they did not receive any notice that EQT had applied for or been granted the permit.  When they found out, they complained to the County Commission that EQT’s plans violated the County’s flood plain ordinance and would make future floods worse.  After Huff objected, the Commission revoked the pemit.  EQT then sued the County Commission to stop the Commission from revoking their flood plain permit on the grounds that there was no notice to EQT (even though neither EQT nor the County notified the Huffs of the original application for the permit).

The Huff family intervened in EQT's case against the County Commission in order to make EQT start the process over again and to require the County Commission to give the Huffs notice and a hearing on the application. In December, Doddridge County Circuit Court Judge Tim Sweeney ruled the county's flood plain ordinance unconstitutional because it doesn't give fair notice to the landowners.

The Commission read the ordinance a first time at it's meeting last week. The public has until May 7 to review and make suggestions or comments on the ordinance. Doddridge County residents may read the ordinance at the Doddridge County Clerks Office, or you can call the courthouse and request a copy. If any changes are made to the document, it will then go back to the first reading.

West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25311