By: Peter M. Duncan
Imagine the horror on the smug faces of Mayor Lucille Blum (and the other elected leaders of New Martinsville) as gas industry workers poured into a recent council meeting to object to the ban on Marcellus shale gas drilling. Mayor Blum and her associates thought they were doing “the right thing” and had headed off the potential threat of contaminated drinking water in their Ohio River town.
Not only the townspeople, but the president of the West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association, who threatened to take its business elsewhere, and Chesapeake Appalachia expressed their disdain for the ban.
“I didn’t expect the pushback,” Blum says, “and I don’t think the council did, either. The statements were strong enough that they made us question the decisions that had been made and made us look at that industry a different way,” Blum says.
Local businessman Matt Quinet thought the council was crazy as they declared the modern-day gold rush a “public nuisance.” And apparently so did a lot of other townfolk. Exactly one month after City Council passed the ban, it began rescinding the ordinance. The final vote is set for Sept. 5.
Hmmm, let’s see how that vote might go. All in favor of higher unemployment rates and stalled infrastructure? Show of hands. No? How about wild speculation fueled by unfounded rumors and disregard of science? The ayes have it.