Protecting our right to clean air and water unites all West Virginians. The WV Supreme Court recently upheld a property owner’s right to keep drillers off their land. But they also told property owners it was too bad if their lives and property values were upended by the fracking industry.
Companies building huge natural gas fracking complexes have disrupted the rural quality of life that West Virginians value.
The balance between industry’s desire to cut costs, workers wanting to protect their jobs in those industries, and protection of our environment—including our lives and health—will always be a contentious issue. A recent Gazette-Mail/Pro Publica described a lawsuit brought on behalf of rural West Virginians who lost their nuisance action before the WV Supreme Court:
As the Marcellus shale drilling has expanded, there have been conflicts between surface owners and the companies that are drilling,” [attorney Anthony] Majestro said. “Absent some legal requirement to require the industry to be good neighbors, I’m afraid we’ll continue to have these situations.”
Majestro’s clients were a group of residents in the Cherry Camp area of Harrison County, in north-central West Virginia. They wanted Antero Resources, the state’s largest gas company, to compensate them for unbearable traffic, “constant dust” that hangs in the air and settles on homes and vehicles, disruptive heavy equipment noise and bright lights that shine into their homes day and night.
These disturbances are far more than 'nuisances.' The lawsuit described above is about unfair disruptions by a powerful industry in the quality of life people cherish in West Virginia.
We need politicians (and since our Supreme Court is elected, they count as politicians) who will protect us from industries in search of huge profits at the expense of our land, water, and health.
Politicians who benefit from contributions from those industries and their employees are suspect. It goes without saying that when they themselves are captains of that industry, as Gov. Jim Justice is, that they stand to benefit by shifting the balance to protecting industry.
We need a State Supreme Court that will be loyal to us by protecting our property rights, our safety, and our way of life, and will value those things more than industry.