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Gas well project would be a benefit to Weirton

For the 17,000-plus workers in West Virginia’s oil and natural gas industry, actions speak louder than words. Operating for decades under stringent state and federal regulations, our industry track record shows both conventional and shale operators put safety first when producing the energy we all need.

In addition to the highly efficient, highly technical process that is hydraulic fracturing, West Virginia’s energy industry is committed to transparency and using innovation to discover new ways to sustainably operate, contrary to a Nov. 20 op-ed (“Placement of wellpad in Weirton would be a bad move.”)

The application to obtain a “22-6A Horizontal Drilling Permit” can be hundreds of pages long and covers each aspect of the drilling and production process. Each permit is fully scrutinized by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to ascertain all conditions have been met, assuring highest degree of public safety.

In addition, the permit mandates operators transparently disclose proposed additives — of which more than 99 percent is water and sand — used throughout the process. In fact, Southwestern Energy participates in the nationally acclaimed “FracFocus” registry, a voluntary chemical disclosure program. Well pads themselves are also protected by industry-grade leak and spill containment liners, and trucks are equipped with their own set of secondary containment systems.

With these safeguards in mind, natural gas development in Weirton should be viewed as an asset to the local community and economy as West Virginia’s Panhandle seeks to prosper and provide opportunity for its residents.

In fairness, increased truck traffic and heightened noise levels are associated with any kind of construction activity, and in this case, this temporary construction turns into in energy production that provides lasting benefits — including high-paying jobs and abundant tax revenues — to surrounding communities.

Here in West Virginia, energy production goes hand in hand with environmental stewardship, conservation and community development. It is extraordinarily unfair to suggest otherwise.

(Burd is the executive director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia.)

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