WV Drillers Threaten Economic Boycotts of Local Businesses in Cities that Ban Marcellus Drilling

Here and there, some city municipalities in West Virginia—like Morgantown—have banned hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus shale gas drilling inside, and even outside of their borders. The latest WV city to do so is New Martinsville (Wetzel County). The West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association has had enough and is threatening to stop supporting local businesses in cities that have enacted bans.

City businesses may see some of their customers going elsewhere in response to New Martinsville City Council voting to ban natural gas activity within corporate limits.

"This is ill-conceived. By them choosing to do that, we have to react," said Michael McCown, president of the West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association, in reaction to council’s recent vote to prohibit gas drilling and associated activity inside city limits.

"We do not want to do commerce in communities that do not want our business," he added.

One of the local companies doing significant business with the gas drillers is Quinet’s Court Restaurant, which has sported a sign noting, "We cater to on site frac(k) and drilling jobs" outside its front door. The restaurant’s owner, Matt Quinet, could not be reached for comment regarding the ban.

The New Martinsville ordinance – which Mayor Lucille Blum said came into law by a unanimous vote of council during the July 6 meeting – states the "exploration, extraction, production, development, mining, leasing and/or drilling for oil, gas" shall be forbidden.

According to the ordinance, the presence of "machinery proposed or intended to be used for or in connection with the production of oil and gas on any private or public property within the corporate limits is strictly prohibited and shall constitute a public nuisance."

City Council also declared, "drilling for oil, gas or other hydrocarbons within the corporate limits is a nuisance detrimental to the health, safety and general welfare of the public with deleterious effects and that it is in the best interest of the community to strictly prohibit such activities."*

MDN’s take: City councils, and the citizens who elect them, should know there are economic consequences to their actions.

*The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Jul 29, 2011) – No Drilling in New Martinsville

  • Don’t let the door hit you on the heinie! Morgantown business do extraordinarily well from WVU, and us PA residents who work or normally shop there. The boycott will FAIL!

  • Then again the boycot might bring the issue into the open and people will see the total lunacy of preventing businesses to operate based on the rumors, nonsense and lies that attempt to portray gas extraction as being detrimental to health and the environment. To think this ban, based on some arbitrary environmental claims is happening in an area where coal extraction and use is prevalent, logging continues almost totally unregulated, trash dumps line rural roads, etc. is almost funny. Morgantown will loose the lawsuit and the already drilled wells will produce or the City will pay for the drilling company losses.  The 44 Million that the city stands to loose is minor compare to the lost revenue that could have been realized from royalties, not to mention the lease payments. The businesses don’t seem to be doing well enough in Morgantown to prevent the place from looking like a dump. Just think what the City and State could do in the way of reclamation and remediation of actual environmental problems (as opposed to fictitious) with these millions.  

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  • disqus4u

    I welcome the drillers with open arms to Morgantown, Monongalia County and to West Virginia. They provide direct and indirect employment opportunities when our city, county and state most need them, thanks to a certain persons disdain for coal. Yes, West Virginia University and its hospital do employ many people, but most of their employees only earn basic wages as do most of the employees of businesses that exist because of the university and hospitals.
    The high wages paid to some university, hospital, Mylan and Department
    of Energy employees has made Morgantown and Monongalia county
    prohibitively expensive to live in, even for many of the better paid
    employees of these businesses. Marcellus Shale drilling is a blessing
    and is safe.

  • disqus4u

    Ms. Wozniak is one of thousands of Pennsylvanian and Maryland day-trippers who work in Morgantown and may buy the occasional lunch here, but buy their houses, vehicles, clothes and even food in their home state. Their doctors and dentists and schools are in PA or MD. They love the money here but are embarrassed by the stigma of shopping or living in WV. If it were not for the tax paying voters of Morgantown, out of county residents such as Ms. Wozniak would be paying taxes for the privilege of working here. The hard working Marcellus Shale workers on the other hand, contribute enormously to our economy by living in our motels, apartments and condominiums, shopping in our stores, eating in our restaurants 6 out of 7 days a week AND providing employment for thousands of local people. I applaud them.