We at the Wetzel Chronicle realize that the most hotly debated topic in the Upper Ohio Valley is the discovery of, exploration for and extraction of natural gas from our region. Not a day can go by that the changes to Wetzel County are not apparent to those of us who have lived here for years, ranging from the increased traffic on our roads to the new faces seen about town to the money and jobs being created by the companies who have come to share our home. Yet, a debate about the ramifications of these changes is going on everyday. From public meetings with fiery rhetoric, to chance encounters in supermarket aisles, our neighbors share their opinions everyday.
On one side of the debate are a host of long time citizens who see the simple life they have come to enjoy slowly erode with the industrialization of Wetzel County. They cite the increased traffic and number of accidents on rural roads as well as the fears about possible pollution of our water sources and land among their chief fears. Some lament that the value of their property has decreased with nearby drilling or understandably bemoan the damage done to the natural beauty of the land.
On the other side are the companies who have come to West Virginia on a mission to supply the United States with an alternative fuel in a time of costly foreign oil, and those who want to see Wetzel County become more prosperous and take advantage of the blessing with which we have been bestowed. They tout the jobs and wealth that they will bring to the region. They have sought to endear themselves a true part of the community with charitable contributions and sponsorships of local events as a means of showing us that they are here to be a part of our community, no simply here to make a quick buck.
As the debate between these groups rages on, some look to the West Virginia State Legislature to enact laws to make sure that the business of gas extraction can happen in a safe and profitable manner. No matter what side of this debate you may fall on, doubtlessly you want what is best for your home and the country. A framework created to protect the safety of our home and ensure that we can welcome these profitable ventures into our community while limiting externalizes can go a long way towards belaying citizens fears and providing legitimacy and securing the rights of the companies working in our backyards.
Hence, we ask that you, our readers, take the time to become informed with the issues facing the legislature and share your views with your county and state representatives. Whatever side you are on, take a minute to look at the debate from the opposing points of view. A healthy, well-informed debate will serve to push the legislature to act on this issue and provide a better structure for this burgeoning industry.