Have you heard about the Antero Frack Waste Disposal project proposed for Ritchie and Doddridge counties? I hope so… but probably not. Resource extraction companies are not actually required to notify you personally when they’re planning to frack your area. A “public notice” is enough.

If you don’t see the notice…? Well, tough luck, kiddo. Now sit down and shut up.

Antero’s proposed Frack Waste Disposal project will affect 89 streams and 11 wetlands. And it’s upstream of Harrisville’s drinking water intake by just a few miles, within the Hughes River Water Board drinking water protection area. That intake supplies not only Harrisville, but also Pennsboro and Cairo. The Frack Waste Disposal project threatens a local stream that hosts endangered mussels, just 1000 feet away, and it will produce 146 million gallons of sludge per year, about 200 tons per day, and 2000 tons of salt per day. There is good reason to be concerned about the health impacts from these fossil fumes. The facility will also see about 600 trucks per day. As if we don’t have road maintenance problems enough!

right to farm spring drive
Sure, it’s pretty. But notice the wet dribble from a leaking pipeline that no one will fix. Just beyond, the road coming down the hill is a rutted mess.

Did you know that virtually all traffic-related damage to roads comes from big trucks–but they only pay for about 35% of road maintenance? You read that right. It’s what’s called a “hidden” subsidy, because we don’t pay them directly. Taxpayers pay road maintenance costs, and companies like Antero profit by using them without having to pay for the damage they cause. It’s another form of corporate welfare.

This is a company where multiple workers have died and have been seriously injured from explosions, firesmore than one–as well as other accidents. They have also contaminated drinking water wells in Doddridge County already. A lobbyist for the gas and oil industry explained, “We’re learning as we go.”

Antero: Gee, thanks. Please go learn on someone else.

On top of all that, you are not being informed about their activities the way you should be. The system is designed to make it hard for you. It’s especially difficult in rural areas like ours.

Top 5 reasons you haven’t heard about Antero’s Frack Waste Disposal Project–even if you live here.

  1. You don’t have TV. This will sound unbelievable to most… but I’m sorry to tell you that it’s just a fact here in rural WV. Most people in rural areas don’t even have the option to get cable. Even if you have the option, cable is expensive. Is it okay to notify people only if they have enough money to waste on cable? Nope. And many, many rural areas just don’t get reception over the air, either. Heck, we don’t get reception at my house, which is on top of a ridge just a few miles from Rt 50. Folks are not getting any better reception in a secluded holler blocked by mountains all around.
  2. You don’t have a subscription to the local papers. Maybe you do. Not everyone does. I don’t, for example. We have to economize, and buying newspaper subscriptions is just not a part of our household budget. Neither are haircuts. I cut my own (you can probably tell if you’ve met me). We also don’t have fancy smartphones. And we can’t afford medicine we’ve been prescribed. To be clear, we’re okay. We don’t even live under the poverty line like about 20% of people in Ritchie and Pleasants counties do. We’re like most people here, and considerably better off than many, which is to say we work to stretch the budget so we can maintain enough savings to get our cars repaired when needed. Why should it cost us money to find out if resource extraction is coming our way? Let me answer that: it shouldn’t.
  3. You don’t have internet. How are you reading this?!!! Just kidding. You probably have I-net if you’re reading my blog, right? I work online, and by fortuosity we do have DSL at our place. It’s laughably slow DSL, but DSL nonetheless. But not everyone in our district is so lucky. In fact, WV is ranked 48 with regard to the percentage of our populations with internet access. Only 63% of us have access at home–and that may well be unreliable dial-up or satellite. Access rates average 15% worse in rural areas like ours.
  4. Coverage of the Antero Landfill and Wastewater project is sorely lacking. Even if you have TV, or subscriptions to the papers, or Internet access, you may not have run across the information, simply because very few place much importance on getting that information to you. People have covered it, sure. But–and this is just opinion, I distinguish–it’s hardly been covered in proportion to how much our community will be affected. You’ll read about it more in small, online outlets, or in blogs.
  5. Most importantly: Antero just doesn’t want you to hear about it. Neither do our politicians. What a coincidence! McKinley is one of their top recipients.  For past cycles, too. Manchin likes to talk about “streamlining” regulations… for companies, not for us. Translation: streamlining in this context means they want it to be easier to pollute. They are not really interested in making it easier on regular people to be heard, or to protect their property. They don’t want to protect streams you might be fishing, or watering livestock on, or swimming in. They don’t want you to know, because they don’t want you to object. They are complicit. The fact is, our representative should be advocating for us, and for our long term best interests.

Here’s what politicians should be doing: “streamlining” the process for regular citizens, not corporations. Lawsie, how much consideration do these big companies need to be given? They have enough advantages. Some don’t even pay the royalties they owe to mineral owners. Ask me how I know that.(I’m looking at you, Triad!) What about the rest of us?

Try finding information about projects in your area, for example. You actually need a docket number for a specific project before you can be updated. Now, don’t get me wrong; I do want the ability to be updated on specific projects. But I want to be alerted about proposed projects, too. I want to be able to protect my property, and my peace of mind. And right now, FERC will simply not alert you to projects that might affect you. And goodness knows, the extraction company won’t. They don’t want to be good neighbors: they just want what they want.

Here’s how it went for me, emailing FERC to try to get notifications of what is happening in my county.

Me, June 17th:
I am a landowner and a mineral rights owner, and want to be added to a mailing list to be notified of any prospective drilling or pipeline activity in my area BEFORE it happens.I live in Ritchie County, WV.Lissa Lucas
FERC Online Support <FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov>, June 17th:
Do you have a docket number? if so you may use the eSubscription link below.
http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp
Me, Jun 17th:
I have already commented on a specific docket number, but I should not have to worry about purchasing a subscription to the local paper and checking every day to see if my life is going to be destroyed.I spoke to someone in your office, and was told I could request to be notified of everything in my area without having to spend time weeping and wringing my hands over the paper everyday.Imagine if you had to check the paper everyday to see if your house was going to have a highway put through it. That’s not the way we should work in a country that respects property rights.Please add me to a mailing list to be notified.Lissa
FERC Online Support <FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov>, June 17th:
If anything come out on that docket number you will be notify. The subscription is free please read the link that was sent to you.
Me, June 17th:
I was told when I called FERC today to write this email address so I could be notified of any pipeline or oil/gas activity in my area without having to spend my time searching papers for docket numbers.Was I told incorrectly? Are you contending that it is my sole responsibility to purchase all the local papers and check every day to make sure no one is trying to destroy my property?Lissa
FERC Online Support <FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov>, June 20th:
There  is no charge to the eSubscription. Use the link below.
Me, June 20th:
Are you really not understanding what I’m looking for, or are you simply trying to avoid addressing my request in a straightforward way? I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, and presume you’re just busy and not paying enough attention to my request, rather than to think you’re not trying to help at all.I am subscribed to that docket number–or at least I asked to be subscribed, so I presume I am subscribed.I would like to be notified of other activity in my area–in other words other docket numbers as they arise–without having to pay for a subscription to the local papers and hope I catch the announcement.Is that easier to understand?
The person I spoke to on the phone told me to write this email address for assistance with that.I would be happy to contact my local papers and local watershed organizations to share this conversation with them, instead, if you are unable to perform this basic service.
It seems to me that this should be a fundamental requirement in order to protect regular citizens from being taken advantage of by resource extraction corporations. So if it isn’t the case that citizens are able to get these notifications for free (without paying for the local paper), I’ll be happy to share the way this request has been handled with the news, clean water activists, and my legislators.
Please let me know if you can help, or if I should contact others as described.
Thanks,
Lissa
FERC Online Support <FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov>
SILENCE

Some will say–like FERC does, evidently: “There are newspaper notices! What more do you want?!”

Um. Have I not made that clear? Call me, maybe.

Beware the Leopard

It all sort of reminds me of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because I am a terrible nerd who loves sci fi. Remember that book and show, fellow nerds?

For those who aren’t as nerdy as I, the story starts off with  a bad day for Arthur Dent, an aggressively courteous Brit who, when he objects to the demolition of his home without notice, is instructed that the plans for the project to demolish it were available for his perusal in the planning office for nine months. So why was he objecting?

“But the plans were on display . . .”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

Antero Resources: Sacrifice Zones

So, what are we dealing with when it comes to these extraction companies? Chiefly, bureaucracies intent on taking advantage of what they regard as unprotected backwater sacrifice zones, more or less. Doddridge, Ritchie, and Pleasants are in the sacrifice zones, or the “we have to put it somewhere, so screw you” zones. We are especially easy to take advantage of when the people who should be advocating for us are instead advocating for their re-election, or working to line their pockets.

We need legislation to require companies to proactively notify every resident whose property or resources may be affected by extraction activities…. including, in the case of Antero’s Frack Waste Disposal Project, every resident of Harrisville, Pennsboro and Cairo, whose drinking water could be affected. Every family farm. Every property downstream, or adjacent to an affected stream. Every household. Every property owner. Every child who attends an affected school.

Because, thanks: my guess is that most of us would like to be notified when there are plans for a new, hyperspace bypass–I mean, when there are “plans” to “deal with” radioactive waste, dispose of 200 gallons of sludge, and 2000 pounds of salt here in our little counties. Every day. Or when your life is going to be turned upside down, and your beautiful piece of almost-heaven destroyed. You have to see it to believe it.

Let’s fight for legislation make sure extraction industries are taxed appropriately for the wear and tear they cause to our roads–and fight to ensure that everyone affected is notified proactively. In the meantime… let’s all go to the meeting.

What: Antero Landfill Project Public Meeting
When: September 13, 2016 6:00pm
Where: Harrisville Women’s Club, 121 W. Main St., Harrisville WV 26362

Early reports suggest Mike Manypenny (running against “Coal Ash” McKinley for US House of Representatives for this district) is going to try to make it to the meeting to questions. I will update when this is confirmed, or if I hear from any other candidates.

UPDATE: You can read about how the meeting went. and find out what “landsplaining” is.