Letter: Reader praises meetings on pipeline, gas

Dear Editor:

Earlier this year, a well-attended and outstanding informational meeting on the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline projects took place at West Virginia Wesleyan College. I don’t remember the date, but some folks came in late from a town hall meeting scheduled for the same time. The Congress member never showed up. The WVWC event was publicized but I believe no elected or economic development people at any level attended.
Representatives from the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance had many brochures and handouts available, along with copies of Volume Two of “Shalefield Stories,” partially funded by The Heinz Foundation.
April Keating of MLPA kept the meeting going and she presented valuable data collected by MLPA. The presentation and brochures by the West Virginia Rivers Coalition staff gave everyone greater insight into how the MVP and ACP would impact the hundreds of miles of streams, the wetlands and rivers. The techniques for the crossings, coffer dams and bank restoration of the Buckhannon River were illustrated and discussed. The audience had many questions.
Kevin Campbell, the gentleman whom I think of as the firefighter from Adrian who spoke so well at a FERC input meeting in Elkins and who is also an MLPA member, had much valuable information. He showed maps with overlays portraying different aspects of blast zones, evacuation routes, effects on roads, schools, state police barracks, hospital and more in the event of an explosion following a gas leak in a pressurized pipeline.
Most of us remember the 20-inch pipeline explosion in Sissonville on Dec. 11, 2012. The proposed ACP pipe is 42 inches in diameter. The first responders’ descriptions and  illustrations gave a totally different view of gas line safety than that given by Dominion’s Robert Orndorff. Mr. Campbell has spoken to many groups including county commissioners in the region and the Upshur County School board.
Had any of the money matters most believers been at the meeting, they might have been surprised by Jim Kotcon’s monetary analysis. He identifies himself as Republican and a fiscal conservative. A frequent spokesman for West Virginia Sierra Club, the WVU biology professor didn’t talk about plants and animals, but instead gave clear facts and fallacies of fracking, gas production and pipeline economics.
Some months earlier, another publicized event in Buckhannon drew perhaps only 30 people, again with, I think, no public officials present. The showing of one of the Josh Fox documentary films, “Gasworks,” features Buckhannon residents. Keating and MLPA were responsible for this event, too. The film and much of the discussion were presented b the folks who brought the film down from Pennsylvania. They were accompanied by another person featured in “Gasworks.” He elaborated on his injuries sustained from well site incidents. Watch this film.
We heard about the Princeton researchers who said they thought the Pennsylvania scene was bad until they came to the West Virginia gas fields. Evidently, Doddridge and Wetzel County are providing new tourism opportunities. Years ago, the Pocahontas County Commissioners made the trip, were appalled and vowed to ban fracking in their beautiful birthplace of rivers land. They failed.
At a meeting of the Allegheny Highlands Alliance a year ago, we learned of an excursion by the Garrett County (Maryland)  Commissioners. Another of several tours drew 40 Frostburg State University sustainability students. Organized groups and Garrett County residents helped convince Maryland’s governor to ban fracking. If you don’t know Buckhannon’s role in convincing New York to ban fracking, you really do need to watch “Gasworks.”

Marion Harless
Kerens, W.Va.