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