NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. -- A natural gas industry group says New Martinsville's new ban on drilling within city limits is ill-conceived, and workers may start taking their business elsewhere.
"We have to react,'' said Michael McCown, president of the West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association. "We do not want to do commerce in communities that do not want our business.''
Mayor Lucille Blum told The Intelligencer that City Council wants to protect its residents' drinking water, which comes from wells.
"We are not doing anything against the gas companies,'' she said. "We are only concerned with protecting our water supply.''
"We appreciate all of these gas companies being here,'' Blum added. "We have no animosity toward them and are glad they are here.''
New Martinsville is at least the fourth West Virginia city to adopt a municipal drilling ban.
Passed unanimously earlier this month, its ordinance forbids "exploration, extraction, production, development, mining, leasing and/or drilling'' within city limits. Whether on private or public property, it says, the machinery used for oil and gas production "is strictly prohibited and shall constitute a public nuisance.''
The ordinance further declares drilling "detrimental to the health, safety and general welfare of the public.''