Website revamp is under way

For a while now the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy web site has been less than fully functional. Our officers, board, and the ad hoc web site committee have been working on the problem and now have a plan to whip the web site into shape.

We have hired Dan Radmacher to get everything straightened out, spruce things up, etc. He worked as an opinion journalist for more than 20 years, winning state and national awards for his editorials and columns. In 2011, he joined Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a nonprofit law and policy organization as Communications Director. He now writes and does other work for a number of clients, specializing in advocacy for progressive causes. You can find out more at WritingLeft.com. He lives in Roanoke, Va., with his wife, son and two cats.

While he is redoing the web site, the online version of The Highlands Voice will have a temporary resting place at the website of the Old Hemlock Foundation. To find a link to the current issue and maybe a very few back issues go to http://oldhemlock.org/WVHC/

LeJay Graffious is a director off the Old Hemlock Foundation as well as a member of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Board of Directors. We appreciate his willingness to provide The Highlands Voice with a temporary home.

Written by Administrator in: The Highlands Voice |

Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change Friday.


By Ellen Cantarow, Truthout | Interview

Few people can explain gas and oil drilling with as much authority as Louis W. Allstadt. As an executive vice president of Mobil oil, he ran the company’s exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000. In 31 years with the company he also was in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. Just before retiring, he oversaw Mobil’s side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world’s largest corporation.


The first in a modest Long Island German-American family to graduate from college (the US Merchant Marine Academy), Allstadt got a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University then was hired by Mobil. Before his retirement he wasn’t aware of a new, sophisticated form of rock fracture, high-volume hydraulic fracturing, developed only in the late 1990s. “It just wasn’t on our radar at that time,” he said. “We were heavily focused on developing conventional oil and gas offshore in deep water.”


Read More

Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Proposed ban on fracking in Va. forest sparks debate



Kim Sandum is driving on a one-lane gravel road inside the George Washington National Forest, the largest federally protected forest on the East Coast. She points to a trout stream gurgling over rocks and shallows not 20 feet from her rolling minivan.

“Can you imagine all those big trucks operating in close quarters like this?” she asks, shaking her head. “Earth-moving equipment everywhere, water lines stretched out on the ground. Workers actually drilling in here! I mean, there’s no way.”

Sandum, executive director of the Community Alliance for Preservation in Rockingham County, has seen crews horizontally drilling for natural gas before, using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It was not a pretty scene, she said.

“It’s like the sudden industrialization of a rural area,” Sandum recalled of her trip to a drill site in a small town in nearby West Virginia. “It was a mess. I didn’t meet anyone there who was happy that drilling was going on.”

Sandum is among a chorus of Shenandoah Valley residents, farmers, local officials, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts who support a proposal from the U.S. Forest Service to ban horizontal drilling and modern-day fracking on the nearly 1 million acres of the George Washington forest, located mostly in Virginia but also touching West Virginia.

The forest service recommended the move two years ago in what officials thought would be a routine updating of its 15-year management plan.

Instead, their draft stirred oil and gas companies to try to block the ban, has deepened a national debate about domestic energy production on public lands, and has exposed Virginians to the controversy surrounding fracking.

A final plan is expected to be released by the end of the month.

If enacted, it would be the first drilling ban in the U.S. government’s vast inventory of woodlands, coming at a time when President Barack Obama has expressed support for an “all of the above” energy policy that encourages gas drilling, including more of it on public lands.

While the ban focuses on horizontal drilling, it also effectively would bar modern fracking, a method in which large quantities of pressurized water, sand and fluids – including some toxic materials, such as hydrochloric acid – are injected into mining wells to break up stubborn rocks and allow natural gas to escape for harvesting.

This new type of “hydro-fracking” requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per well. It has proved successful in tapping previously inaccessible gas deposits in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and other states. But its environmental and social impacts have been highly contentious and still are being sorted out.

Among environmental groups, fracking has become a new bogeyman. Activists in several European countries are demanding an end to the practice altogether, and American conservationists warn of drinking water contamination, the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, spills of polluted groundwater, and shattered landscapes.

In the George Washington forest, opponents say that drinking water for more than 247,000 residents in nearby towns and counties would be at risk, as well as for millions of others in metro areas farther downstream, such as Richmond and Washington. Those freshwater streams and reservoirs all drain into the James River and Potomac River watersheds, which later empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the eastern United States, fracking occurs mostly in a huge saucer-shaped geological feature known as the Marcellus Shale. This underground layer cake of stone and mineral brushes the western edges of Virginia on a line roughly defined by Interstate 81.

The Virginia piece is considered thinner and less productive than in other states – and does not come close to the sandy, watery geology beneath Hampton Roads.

Being on the outer rim, wells do not require as much pressurized water to prime and often utilize nitrogen instead of toxic fluids, but their strike-it-rich success is limited, said George Kozera, president of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, a trade group.

“Not many people are going to drill on the edge when you can drill in the middle” of the Marcellus Shale, in states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Kozera said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has pledged to make Virginia “the energy capital of the East Coast,” has criticized the proposed drilling ban, saying it would quash jobs and curtail a national goal of energy independence.

McDonnell also is taking issue with the forest management plan for setting aside scant places for wind energy – only about 30,000 acres after site restrictions are factored in. As with gas wells, the governor said, windmills also would not likely be developed in the forest.

At least one wind project has been shelved so far; it called for 130 turbines atop a scenic mountain ridge at the northern entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.

“Specifically, the restrictions on wind energy and natural gas development are unsupported in facts, science or environmental protection requirements,” the Republican governor wrote in a letter to the forest service.

State agencies, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, have said the ban would be “overly restrictive” and that drilling can be done safely by companies adhering to existing state regulations.

They note that conventional wells that go straight into the ground – as opposed to horizontal wells that go down and then curve and run along gas seams for as long as a mile – have been plumbed for decades in southwest Virginia without incident. Some of those wells are found in the Jefferson National Forest and have been primed with an older but similar form of fracking dating to the 1940s.

Oil and gas interests are urging defeat or modification of the proposed ban, worried that it might set a precedent for other national forests and public settings. They point out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a comprehensive study of fracking and water quality, and that no ban should be considered until the research is completed, estimated for next year.

The ban is “unjustified and inconsistent with the current administration’s efforts to increase U.S. energy security and control emissions of greenhouse gases,” wrote Halliburton, the Texas-based energy giant, in a letter to the forest service.

Ken Landgraf, a planning officer for the Washington and Jefferson national forests, has heard the arguments and lobbying for years now. His office in a bland commercial park near Roanoke Regional Airport is full of maps, papers, files and chairs for impromptu meetings.

He can trace the origins of the drilling ban to a 2010 meeting in Rockingham County, where another Texas company had quietly leased land near homes in the town of Bergton and was seeking county approval for an exploratory well.

County officials knew little of the project, and residents grew anxious at the prospect of drilling with so few details on the table. With oil and gas prices high, and with energy companies scouting for more well sites along the Marcellus Shale, Landgraf knew it would be wise to address drilling in the updated management plan.

“I can say we have had no problems with the conventional wells in the Jefferson (forest), but what we’re talking about here are not conventional wells,” he said. “We saw a need to get ahead of this, to get something on paper specific to our local circumstances.”

He recalled how during the energy crisis of the 1970s, almost the entire forest was quickly leased by oil and gas speculators. A few wells were sunk, but after some poor test results, fears of gas fields sprouting up next to trout streams never materialized. After 10 years, the leases lapsed, and the investors went home.

Ban advocates are aware of this poor-performing past but say the stakes are too high not to take action. Eleven cities and counties near the forest have spoken out against fracking, worried about threats to water resources, clean streams and rural character.

“It’s just not an appropriate use of a national forest,” said Lynn Cameron, co-chair of Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, a conservation group. “There are plenty of other places to go and drill. Why come in and ruin the success we’ve had here for the past century?”

Landgraf said the forest service has spent much of the past two years responding to the more than 53,000 public comments about the proposed ban. Mostly, he said, the service has tried to determine whether horizontal drilling and its related fracking could be done in areas without harming the environment and recreational opportunities within the forest.

No other national forest has drilling restrictions, and most do not control the mineral rights to what lies in the ground; those are mostly left to private lease buyers. About 12,000 acres in the George Washington forest are currently under lease to oil and gas companies, with about 80 percent controlled by R&R Royalty Ltd., a Texas firm. Phone calls to R&R offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, were not returned.

In the heart of fracking and drilling country on the East Coast, in Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest has achieved a kind of detente with drill operators and state regulators, said Kathy Mohney, a public affairs specialist for the forest.

Mohney said she is unaware of any chronic water contamination within the forest from a surge in drilling activity in recent years, but added, “there’s always some impact. We’re trying to coexist here, and a lot of it comes down to the relationships you develop with the operators, the state and environmental groups.”

There has been litigation and one criminal spill, Mohney recalled, in which an angry former employee of an energy company intentionally dumped wastes into a forest waterway.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “We do the best we can.”

Sarah Francisco has been closely watching the forest debate as an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. She said there is interest in fracking in a national forest in Alabama and on private property in North Carolina in the central part of the state around Durham and Winston-Salem.

Francisco worries about many potential impacts to the Washington national forest. During an interview at her downtown office, she mentions several: methane gas oozing into drinking water supplies; the handling of wastewater known as “flowback,” which bubbles to the surface during drilling; and about how operators would store such wastes in open pits and then permanently get rid of them.

The flowback often is rich in salts and can contain naturally occurring radioactive components, as well as remnant fracking fluids. It is supposed to be handled by a certified disposal facility, though for years, the material was trucked in other states to sewage treatment plants lacking the technology to process it effectively.

Francisco hopes the George Washington plan encourages other national forests to consider drilling limits and stirs conservationists to start asking questions.

Drilling and fracking “really have not been part of the local economies around these forests,” she said. “There’s no existing infrastructure for it, the impacts could be huge and there’s not a lot of public support for it. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me.”

Scott Harper, 757-446-2340, scott.harper@pilotonline.com



Read more…

Written by Administrator in: Energy,Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Appeals court backs EPA’s veto of Spruce Mine


Law gives agency power over permits, 3-0 ruling says
By Ken Ward Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was clearly within its legal authority when it rejected a permit for one of the largest mountaintop removal mines in West Virginia history, a panel of three federal appeals court judges ruled Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia panel — made up of three Republican-appointed judges — reversed a lower court ruling that had thrown out the EPA’s veto of the Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal Inc.’s Spruce Mine in Logan County.

Read more…

Written by Administrator in: EPA,Mountaintop Removal |




April 26-28, 2013

Join us at Tygart Lake State Park just south of Grafton WV

Friday evening: Casual get-together, pizza and snacks in the Lodge

Saturday morning: Committee and Board Planning

Saturday afternoon: Day trip to longwall mine site and T.E.A.M.* program

Saturday Evening Program: 7 p.m. at the Park Lodge

Discussion of Health Issues associated with the fossil fuel industry

Michael Hendryx , PhD.

Research Director for the West Virginia University Institute for Health Policy Research.

Jill Kriesky, PhD.

Associate Director for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project







~~~ for planning purposes please contact us to let us know you’re coming~~~

Cindy Rank, clrank2@gmail.com,  304-924-5802  … or …

Marilyn Shoenfeld, marilyn.shoenfeld@gmail.com, 304-866-3484

*T.E.A.M. is WVHC Organizational Member Taylor Environmental Action Membership whose members live and work in the area of the new 6,000 acre Tygart #1 mine and Leer Slurry Cell.


How to get there: Located in the north central part of West Virginia, Tygart Lake is easily accessible by taking north/south U.S. Route 119 or east/west U.S. Route 50 to Grafton. From Grafton take Rt. 50 to South Grafton and follow signs to the park.

For GPS navigation enter: Bathhouse Road, Tygart Lake State Park, Grafton WV.

Written by Administrator in: WV Highlands Voice |

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Initiates a New Public Lands Outing Program

This Land is Your Land

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

Initiates a New Public Lands Outing Program

by David W. Saville, Chair, Public Lands Committee

A new Highlands Conservancy program, This Land is Your Land, will be spending a day or more each month in 2013 to explore, and learn more about our public lands.

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has a long and rich history of advocating for the protection and wise management of our public lands.  That history is equally as rich in giving back to these lands through service projects to protect and restore them.  West Virginia is not particularly rich in public lands, but it does have a good diversity and distribution.

Who manages these lands that belong to all of us?  What agencies are responsible?  What is the difference between the Park Service and the Forest Service?  What laws provide guidance to these agencies?  How did we acquire these various lands and how can we acquire more of them?  What are the current management issues and are they facing any threats?  How can the public become involved and engaged in their management?  How can we work to benefit them and ascertain a long and healthy future for them?

These are just a few of the questions that the Public Lands Committee’s new program can help Highlands Conservancy members, and the public, discover the answers to.  The Program will assemble a dynamic calendar of events, published in the Highlands Voice each month and at www.wvhighlands.org, where we will visit, explore, and discuss the issues facing our various public lands.  The events will generally include informational meetings with the area’s managers, and they will also include an outing to explore or restore some of the wonders of that particular area of our land.  Some events will include discussions of public lands issues and activities of the Highlands Conservancy’s Public Lands Committee.

Our first event will be a service project at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, April 20 & 21, where we will be volunteering to help restore the red spruce ecosystem by planting seedlings.  Below is the current calendar of events, and more will be added as the year progresses.

Because, from West Virginia’s highest Point, at Spruce Knob, to its lowest, at Harper’s Ferry, This Land was Made for You and Me! 



This Land is Your Land – Event Calendar

Please RSVP if you are planning to attend an outing!  For more information, visit www.wvhighlands.org, or contact Dave Saville at daves@labyrinth.net.


Saturday and Sunday, April 20 & 21, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge; Red Spruce Ecosystem Restoration, 9 am.  Join us as we continue our efforts to restore the red spruce ecosystem in the West Virginia Highlands.  We will meet at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center at 9 am each day.  Following an orientation about the USF&WS, the Refuge and the red spruce ecosystem we will car pool to the restoration site.  Come dressed for the weather, wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring gloves.  Lunch will be provided.  We’ll work until around 5 pm on Saturday and try to finish up around 1-2 pm on Sunday.

Sunday, June 2, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Greenbrier Ranger District, Monongahela National Forest, Bartow, WV, 1 pm.  Management of our National Forest happens at the District level.  At this outing we will meet with District Ranger, Jack Tribble, and Wildlife Biologist, Shane Jones who will give us a tour of the District offices, and briefly describe the Forest’s decision making process and management from a District level perspective.  This is the first of two visits to the District this year.  This trip we will learn about the restoration and reclamation of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems on old strip mines.  As part of the “Mower Tract,” an area of 60,000 acres purchased from the Mower Lumber Company in 1989, numerous formerly strip mined areas are being restored.  We’ll visit the Lambert Run and Barton’s Bench project areas to see some of the highly acclaimed restoration work the Forest Service is accomplishing through creative partnerships and leveraged funding.

Sunday, July 13, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Canaan Valley State Park, 1 pm.  At this event, we will visit with Park Superintendent, Rob Gilligan, at the Canaan Valley State Park Nature Center.  Rob will discuss the management of the State “Resort” Parks as well as the new Lodge and Conference facilities.  We will then take a car tour, and a few short hikes, to visit some of the Park’s most outstanding features.

Saturday, August 10, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Williamstown, WV, 1 pm.  Meet Refuge Manager Glenn Klingler and Assistant Manager, Sara Siekierski, of West Virginia’s first National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1990.  Scattered along 362 miles of the Ohio River, the refuge restores and protects habitat for wildlife in one of our Nation’s busiest inland waterways.  It includes 22 islands and 4 mainland properties for a total of 3,440 acres.  Half of the refuge acreage is underwater, providing crucial habitat to support over 40 species of freshwater mussels.  Hear from refuge leadership about the challenges the refuge faces and what their team is doing to help safeguard a future for wildlife.  Afterwards we’ll go for a hike around Middle Island.

September 8, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Kanawha State Forest, Charleston, WV, 1 pm.  Meet Assistant Superintendent, Kevin Dials at one of West Virginia’s most popular State Forests.  Unique among State Forests, Kanawha is managed more like a State Park because of an action of the State Legislature.  The 9,300 acre forest is noted among naturalists for its diverse wildflower and bird populations.  Rich cove forest sites provide nesting habitat for 19 species of wood warblers.  We’ll join with members of the Kanawha State Forest Foundation, a citizens group acting on the forest’s behalf, for an afternoon visit.

Sunday, October 6, 2013, This Land is Your Land – Greenbrier Ranger District, Monongahela National Forest, Bartow, WV 1 pm.  For the second of our visits to the Greenbrier Ranger District, we will once again meet with District Ranger, Jack Tribble and District Wildlife Biologist, Shane Jones.  The discussion of current activities will focus on the upper Greenbrier North project.  This large and diverse project involves numerous management activities including spruce restoration and stream habitat improvement.  We’ll take a car tour and some short hikes into the upper Greenbrier north project area to learn more about the activities and proposed activities associated with that project.

This Land is Your Land a


Written by Administrator in: Hiking-Outings,Public Lands |

Antero tank farm moves for no one



By Tara Zrinski, Shalereeporter.com

New Milton, W.V. — On March 18, Antero Resources issued its 2012 financial and operational results.

This highlighted the company holdings of 305,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale and 88,000 acres in the Utica Shale.

Boasting a sky-rocketing production increase of 9 percent, Antero’s March daily production of 390 million cubic feet blows away the 2012 daily average of 239.

Antero operates 13 Marcellus rigs, all of which are in West Virginia, and it expects to add another by year’s end. Antero ascent in the natural gas industry, however, is blemished by the complaints of a Doddridge County landowner.

William Trent has been battling Antero Resources over the placement of a water “tank farm” 63 feet from the bedroom window of his disabled son Jake.


Read more…

Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

The Mountain State is a forest state, too

By EMILY GALLAGHER, Times-West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — West Virginia is known as the Mountain State, but what do people know about the trees covering those mountains?

There are seven state forests and one national forest in West Virginia. The state forests are Seneca State Forest, Kumbrabow State Forest, Greenbrier State Forest, Coopers Rock State Forest, Camp Creek State Forest, Calvin Price State Forest and Cabwaylingo State Forest. The Monongahela National Forest is the only national forest in the state. Randy Dye, director and state forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, said West Virginia is the third most forested state in the nation.

“Seventy-eight percent of our total acreage is covered in forest, which means 12 million acres are forested,” he said.

Dye said of the 12 million acres, 87 percent are privately owned or owned by companies.

Dye said there are about 5,998 million trees covering the state.

“That means there’s 33,000 trees for every individual in the state,” he said.

Dye said each forest in the state helps provide for residents in the state, whether it be with jobs, resources, recreation or a nice view.

“Forests provide the highest quality of water,” he said. “And they’re the scenic beauty of the state.”

There are several types of trees in the state’s forests, including yellow poplar, red maple, black cherry and spruce.

“Black cherry is the most valuable because they’re the most desired for furniture,” he said. “They only grow in the Appalachian region.”

He said each forest also has unique qualities.

Seneca State Forest is the oldest of West Virginia’s state forests. It is located in central Pocahontas County and provides 14 miles of hiking.

After the Civil War, the forest provided timber to a wood products industry. Areas within and surrounding the forest were removed of white pine trees during this time, which changed the character of the land. This led to large fires taking over the land.

In 1924, most of the forest was purchased by the state of West Virginia with the top priority being protection from fire. Since then, white pine trees have made a steady comeback to Seneca, and with management practices the volume in white pine and oak is said to have increased.

Kumbrabow State Forest played a vital part in timber harvesting in the 1880s. The forest provided red spruce to companies like the Alexander Boom and Lumber Co. and the J. Natwick Co. Most of the forest now is covered with black cherry trees.

The forest is unique because after it was purchased by the state, it was named after three men who were responsible for the purchase: Gov. Herman G. Kump, Spates Brady and Hubert Bowers. The first three letters of their last names were put together to name the forest Kumbrabow.

Greenbrier State Forest is located in southeastern Greenbrier County and consists of many steep, rocky, parallel ridges and valleys. One of the more known mountains in the forest is Kate’s Mountain. It was named after Kate Carpenter, who survived an Indian raid by hiding with her infant in a hollow log.

Mature timber in the forest show scars and decay from years of repeated burning from early settlers and farmers who burned the forest for agricultural benefits. When the settlers stopped burning, fires were caused by trains trying to slow down coming off the steep grades.

Coopers Rock State Forest, located near Bruceton Mills, is the largest state forest in West Virginia at about 12,747 acres.

Around 1798, low-grade iron ore was discovered in the area. Many iron furnaces were constructed in the area, like the Henry Clay Iron Furnace in 1834.

Out of the total acreage, 7,068 acres were leased to the Board of Governors of West Virginia University in 1959 for 99 years. The forest is used by the university for research and teaching and is known as West Virginia University Research Forest.

Camp Creek State Forest, located in Mercer County, is 5,269 acres, with 487 acres of the original forest made a state park in 1988.

The forest played a part in development of northern Mercer County. Camp Creek was the name because troops in the Civil War considered the area good for camping.

The forest is known for its fishing and hunting. Camp Creek is stocked with trout every spring and has small game, deer and turkey for hunting.

Calvin Price State Forest is the most recent forest to be added to the West Virginia State Forest system. The forest is located in Pocahontas County and was purchased by the state from the New River Lumber Co. in 1953.

Calvin Price is unlike most of the forests in the state because it has no developed recreational areas. That’s because the forest is located close to Watoga State Park, which is one of the state’s largest recreational parks.

Cabwaylingo State Forest is named after the counties it covers — Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo. The 6,196-acre forest was purchased by the state in 1933, and additional purchases have expanded the size to 8,150 acres.

The forest, like others, has experienced destructive forest fires. They were caused by arson, debris burning and moonshining.

Monongahela National Forest is the only national forest in the state. It was established after the 1911 Weeks Act passed. The act authorized the federal purchase of the land.

The forest covers more than 919,000 acres in 10 West Virginia counties.

What’s unique about the forest is the different elevations it contains because it’s so large. The lowest part of the forest is about 1,000 feet above sea level and the highest is 4,863 feet above sea level.

There are at least 75 tree species throughout the forest and more than 225 species of birds with eight federally listed as threatened or endangered species of birds, bats, salamanders and plants.


Written by Administrator in: Forestry |

High-profile activist thrives on grass roots


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — He’s one of the state’s best-known activists, a familiar protester and prolific contributor to the newspaper editorial page.

A coal miner’s son and a passionate environmentalist, he devotes much of his remarkable energy to saving West Virginia mountains from the ravages of coal mining.

Rising from his roots, he was an honor student at West Virginia University, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. As West Virginia’s first Peace Corps volunteer, he spent two years teaching high school chemistry in Nigeria. He recently wrote a book about that special time.


Read more…

Written by Administrator in: The Highlands Voice |

Opportunity for input — National Research Council Project on Risk Management and Governance Issues in Shale Gas Extraction


See link below for opportunity to list your concerns ……


The National Research Council of The National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine) is conducting a project to look into the risks associated with extracting natural gas from shale deposits using technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (commonly called fracking).  The project is supported by the National Science Foundation.

About the Project

Scientists involved in the project will summarize available knowledge about risks of fracking and about ways such risks might be effectively and consistently managed. Our hope is to advance understanding and help to better inform national discussions about the future use of fracking technologies.

The first step in this project is to identify the range of issues about fracking that concern Americans. To do this, we have examined research and news reports, and through this message, we are canvassing a wide-range of potentially concerned individuals and groups across the nation that may have concerns about issues related to fracking. We want to learn about public concerns because we believe that science should address those concerns. We also want to identify fracking-related issues or concerns about which people would like to learn more. The National Research Council will use this input to help choose the issues its project will address.

Although we will not be able to address all the issues and concerns that are raised, we will commission papers to summarize the scientific knowledge on selected issues and have the papers presented and discussed at two workshops this year. The workshops will be open to the public, space permitting, and they will be webcast. The papers and presentations from the workshops will be made available to anyone on the project’s website. More information about the project is already available there, and updated information will be posted periodically and at the end of the project.

What we Would Like to Hear from You


We are interested in your concerns about any aspect of fracking, including the technologies, the ways they are or may be used, the effects of their use, the ways they are or may be regulated, etc.

We invite you to submit your concerns by entering them in the boxes below.  We encourage you to submit as many concerns as you have, and to share this invitation with others in your community or organization. However, this is not a scientific survey. We are not trying to find out which concerns are most common.  Also, our interest at this point is in learning what people’s concerns are rather than in getting ideas about how to address the concerns.

Your input is very important to us and we are grateful for your taking the time to respond. A few questions ask about you, but your responses will remain completely anonymous. We want to reach as many people as possible who may have concerns about fracking or want to know more about fracking. For that reason, we are distributing this email request widely and we encourage you to forward it to people you think would be concerned and likely to participate. We would appreciate receiving responses by March 19, 2013.

Thank you,


Paul C. Stern (Study Director)

Professor Mitchell Small, Carnegie Mellon University (Study Chairperson)



Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Mining legislation allows company free rein


Do the residents of the Penokees and the citizens of Wisconsin want West Virginia-style mining?

By Lowell Klessig

The mining bill approved by the state Senate Wednesday is a 21st-century version of the “Broad Form Deed” – a deed whose fine print allows the company to run roughshod over the landscape.

The Broad Form Deed was used in West Virginia by mining companies to buy the right to develop an underground coal mine. The landowner was paid a small royalty and expected little interference with his farming operation. However, the fine print of the deed allowed the company to also “engage in such surface activities as are necessary for the mining operation.”

For example, the mining company could cut the farmer’s trees because the timbers were needed to brace the roof of the mine tunnels. Likewise, the farmer’s fields could be used to pile the mine spoils, and a staging facility was designed for loading trucks.

Read More…

Written by Administrator in: Mining Matters |

W.Va. House committee votes to weaken EPA standard



By DAVID GUTMAN, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — After a contentious public hearing pitting the coal industry against environmental advocates, the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee, in a near unanimous voice vote, advanced legislation that would weaken the state’s selenium regulations.

The bill would authorize the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study to determine state-specific guidelines for how much selenium is acceptable in state waters.

If sites are found to have exceeded selenium guidelines, that would no longer be treated as a punishable violation, but would instead trigger additional monitoring.

 Read more…

Written by Administrator in: EPA,Selenium |

Initiative Heals Rare Forest and Recovers Squirrel


by Kristin Haider

In a 1925 article in the Scientific Monthly titled “The Vanishing Spruce,” referred to the high elevation red spruce (Picea rubens) as a “lost tribe.” The lost tribe of red spruce the authors were referring to found refuge in the high elevations in the central Appalachian region during a warming period that took place after the Wisconsin glaciation—part of the last Ice Age, which ended approximately 10,000 years ago. Historically, red spruce was common in both the peaks and valleys of the Appalachians, but as temperatures climbed, the species was forced to retreat north towards New England and southeastern Canada, and to islands of suitable habitat in the high elevation areas of the central Appalachians.

This “lost tribe” metaphor paints a picture of a species that is stranded—disjunct in time and space from the rest of its kind. However, despite its limited range, the species thrived on ridges and peaks, which are cooler and wetter than the valleys around them. These spruce forests have provided important habitat for many rare plants and migratory bird species, and have acted as a stronghold for the federally endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) and the federally threatened Cheat Mountain salamander (Plethodon nettingi). Unfortunately, in the late 1800s these high elevation red spruce forests were threatened by a growing nation’s demand for resources.

Prior to the 19th Century, there were over 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) of high elevation red spruce forests in West Virginia. Sadly, most of the timber on these acres was harvested for paper products. Appalachian red spruce was also prized for the use in creating fine instruments such as fiddles, guitars, and pianos, and for shipbuilding.

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Written by Administrator in: Forestry,Red Spruce |

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