Over a year ago, MDN pointed out a unique spirit of cooperation and partnership between Monroe County, WV and driller Gordy Oil (see this MDN story). It is the story of a driller being responsive to local concerns about a special underground geologic formation called a karst, a system of underground system of caves and streams. Local residents were concerned drilling may foul the water table in the area, and Gordy spent time listening and making adjustments to their plans.
Unfortunately, the opposition has continued, and Gordy Oil is now nowhere to be found in Monroe County. Is it because of the low price of oil? Or because of the drumbeat of opposition?
Instead of treating Marcellus Shale drilling companies as enemies or opponents, officials in Monroe County (West Virginia) instead decided to treat them as partners. Monroe is a rural county in southeastern WV with an underground water system mapped by cavers. Monroe sits atop a karst geological formation, which contains sinkholes, underground caves and streams that sink underground. Water under some parts of the county can travel miles in a single day, so Monroe officials are concerned about any potential spillages and about fracking in some areas.
Marcellus Shale drilling in the state has no special regulations as it does in other Marcellus states, and the most recent session of the legislature adjourned without passing proposed new regulations. So officials in Monroe County proactively sought out Gordy Oil, the only drilling company that has expressed an active interest in drilling in the county, to see if the two might work out an agreement, and it resulted in a “memorandum of understanding” between the two.