Heros and Neros of West Virginia: First, the Neros

March 18, 2011


PART 1 | The NERO Awards (see below)
PART 2 | The HERO Awards (to come)
SUGGEST new Hero and Nero Awards and Citations

So, we were going to write a tut-tut screed about the West Virginia Legislature’s punt on regulation of Marcellus Shale drilling in the state, while at the same time passing tax breaks for the industry – too little time for such complex regulations, said acting-governor Earl Ray Tomblin. (While one commentator to a Gazette blog notes: ‘There was no problem in the legislature passing the tax break for drillers, but the passing of any laws protecting the rights of citizens was too complicated??!!”)

Earl Ray Tomblin

Yet other of my colleagues do that thing better than I ever could. But then after saying there was just too little time to get regulation underway for this new era in energy extraction in the state – Marcellus drilling will likely be as impactful on local homesteads and as hugely problematic environmentally as mountaintop removal mining –  Tomblin said he would not call a special session to pass new regulations. Wait – not enough time to get the regulations right? A special session equals more time, correct? Which would enable you to do what you said couldn’t be done? Which is, like a syllogism, isn’t it?

So what’s the beta version of a West Virginia-centric multimedia blogazine to do? Awards! We need some regular awards to point out people, groups and institutions acting heroically in the public interest – a Hero Award (or a lesser Hero Citation). And a Nero Award (and lesser Nero Citation) for people who are, on the other hand, acting Nero-istically. Fiddling around, as it were, while things are burning and pressing action is needed, but you, institutionally or personally, would rather play “Devil in the Haystack” after another fine plate of langostino shrimp at the Tidewater, where a very friendly guy in a great suit magically picks up the bill. Again! How cool is that? First, the Nero Awards.

The NERO Award for March 2011 goes to: Earl Ray Tomblin and certain legislators of the W.Va. Legislators for inability to pass Marcellus Shale drilling regulation while passing tax breaks for Marcellus drilling. But not these 19 delegates who have proposed a moratorium in Marcellus drilling until the state gets its regulatory act in order.

MORE DETAILS: If you, like us, are still getting up to speed on the magnitude of what Marcellus Shale drilling means in West Virginia and the region, you might well start by reading some of the New York Times recent eye-opening series on issues raised by this kind of drilling. Deep wells are plunged into the earth through water tables, and then fan out horizontally, injecting an unknown brew of chemicals, brine and other substances into the Marcellus Shale formation that underlies much of the state. The drilling fractures the rocks (where the word ‘fracking’ comes from), frees the gas and returns to the surface the brew of chemicals. Stay tuned to the Charleston Gazette’s Sustained Outage and Squawk Box blogs for the latest developments on the regulation front, as well Lawrence Messina’s coverage by the Associated Press.


~ New York Times Marcellus Shale Series
~ The Times’ animated illustration on the process and hazards of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.’
~ 19 W.Va. Delegates call for moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling (Squawk Box blog)
~ Enough inspectors for Marcellus oversight? Ken Ward talks to W.Va. DEP’s Randy Huffman
~ Did legislators really not have enough time to work this issue? This ‘Sustained Outrage’ post suggests otherwise.
~ Something to say to state legislators on this issue? Contact them here.

~ Douglas Imbrogno


7 Responses to “Heros and Neros of West Virginia: First, the Neros”

  1. Dave Peyton Says:

    So what did you expect, Douglas. When was the last time the environment got a break in West Virginia? Not with coal. Not with oil and not with the first gas boom. We will all be drinking poisoned water in a few years but we will be told it’s good for us because even though we are dying, by God we have jobs.

  2. Scott Gilger Says:

    Earl Ray Tomblin is just another in a long line of politicians that value the coal industry more than the citizens that put them in office in the first place. I understand that the coal industry employs a lot of people. I also understand that people like Don Blankenship and his ilk could care less about the welfare of the miners. It is, and always has been, about the money. The one thing that we have in abundance in this state, besides coal, is our natural beauty. The coal industry and the politicians that continue to give them tax breaks are steadily raping us of that. I AM NOT A FRIEND OF COAL! I live in Fayette Co., and I hate what mining has done here.

  3. admin Says:

    Yes, Harry Caudill’s “Night Comes to the Cumberland” comes to mind, and the notion that with coal mining – and now with newer energy sources – certain sections of the country have been deemed “national sacrifice zones” for energy extraction.

  4. Heidi Muller Says:

    Great idea, these new awards. I’d like to offer a Hero nomination for Maya Nye and friends, timely with today’s Bayer CropScience announcement that they would not restart MIC production. By filing their lawsuit when they did, these local citizens delayed Bayer getting their product to market for this year’s crops, which led to this decision. Let’s give special recognition to the Institute residents who’ve fought for chemical safety for 20+ years.

  5. mtn waters Says:

    Ah yes, and it becomes even clearer when we see that Phil Reale and Nick Casey are on Tomblin’s campaign committee. Business as usual my friends. Accent on business. Maybe we should form a Have-nots party. I think that may have appeal.

  6. Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher Says:

    Love the new awards! I am planning something similar, the non-young-gun recognition. Still cooking it! Never enough pointing out the heroes who smash the status quo. I managed to only follow one piece of legislation this session, the autism insurance bill. There was action there, and I am pleased. Could always be better, but it’s a start. Thanks for being a Hero!


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