Gas drilling rules should protect landowners
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A recent article in the Gazette, "Gas drilling distance buffer not far enough, researcher says" states: "Michael McCawley, interim chairman of WVU's Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, said language that prohibits drilling sites within 625 feet of occupied dwellings does not make sense for protecting the public."
However, as important as environmental issues are, they should not be the only determining factors when looking at gas well site setbacks. The impact on property values also should be considered. A potential buyer of land with a gas lease, either with or without a horizontal gas well site present, could be more inclined to purchase such a property knowing that certain mandated gas well site setbacks will protect property value. Such protection would also benefit sellers of land whether they are strictly surface owners or those who own both surface and minerals, particularly if the latter want to sell the surface but retain the minerals. Such property value protection could provide more assurance to sellers that they might have a better chance attracting buyers and getting fair market value for their lands. Setbacks that help retain property values would also be particularly beneficial to banks that finance mortgages. There are banks that won't finance mortgages on gas-leased properties or leases that aren't particularly protective.
A Gazette editorial on Oct. 30, "Boom: Marcellus gas," states: "It would be even more encouraging if Gov. Tomblin and the Legislature made sure as many West Virginians as possible shared in the boom." So let's be fair to all, and if as landowners, real estate agents and banks you are concerned about how gas leases and gas well site setback distances impact property values, contact your legislators and ask that they pass a requirement for a property value study to answer this very important question.
Capito should find another line of work
According to Standard and Poor's, the recent government shutdown cost the U.S. economy about $24 billion. Other experts worried that it would slow job growth. Businesses are naturally a bit reluctant to hire when they don't know if people will have money to spend. Many folks' paychecks depend directly or indirectly on Uncle Sam, especially in West Virginia where we have a lot of retirees.
So it's disappointing that wannabe-Sen. Capito sat on her hands while the tea party had its tantrum last month. A U.S. representative can reach across party lines and line up support for solutions to problems. But not Capito. She just lined up behind John Boehner and Ted Cruz and voted for bills that had no chance of passing. Brought the government to screeching halt.
Talk about hypocrisy. Republicans always whine about government waste. What is more wasteful than paying government employees not to work? I guess if you think they do more harm than good, it would make sense. But the coal miners who died while MSHA was closed might have disagreed. So might businessmen who depend on government economic forecasts. Or doctors needing results of government-sponsored health research.
Shutdown Shelley and her tea party friends don't seem to like government. Maybe they should do something else for a living.