Southwestern Energy Fighting Ohio County, WV Fire Dept. Fee

Location of Ohio County, WV

Ohio County, WV, like many rural counties, has a string of volunteer fire departments that respond to calls in their respective localities. When an industrial activity like shale drilling shows up, local volunteers need special (ongoing) training to address the unique circumstances involved with a well pad fire. There’s also all of the extra calls local fire departments get from the sheer volume of vehicle traffic related to workers coming and going, and trucks hauling all manner of materials–from pipes to equipment to water. Those vehicles sometimes get into accidents, requiring a fire truck to respond. So Ohio County passed a $5,000 per well pad fee, per year, to help defray those costs. Southwestern Energy is the only driller active in the county, currently, with some 29 well pads. For Southwestern, the fee equals $145,000 per year, year after year, going to the local fire department effort. When Ohio County sent Southwestern the bill, Southwestern didn’t pay it. Instead, they filed a lawsuit claiming the fee is “arbitrary and excessive”…

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