Monday, March 22, 2010

Where was TMI when...

"Where was TMI when MNF let drilling proceed on the Fernow EF in clear violation of ESA, NEPA rules and CWA?"

This was a comment left on the blog late last week; a comment I assume is in response to TMI's recent letter to the BLM, filed to protest the leasing of two parcels in the Monongahela National Forest (MNF), both within 10 miles of TMI's Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Where was TMI at the time of drilling in the Fernow? We were right here on Spruce Knob, incredibly busy doing what we do, running our programs, and not privy to the situation at the Fernow until after the fact. The original map of candidate drilling areas for this particular auction, released in July 2009, contained proposed lease areas surrounding and bordering our facility, the Spruce Knob Mountain Center. This couldn't fly under our radar; it was in our back yards.

Over the last year, the proposition of natural gas development in Marcellus Shale in the region has generated much thought and discussion within TMI’s Appalachia Program. TMI Appalachia is not an advocacy group, but an educational organization that works to protect, promote and support the best interests of mountains and all they encompass. This creates an interesting dichotomy in the organization’s view of Marcellus Shale drilling in the mountains of West Virginia. On one side of the division is the preservation of our mountain environments; on the other is the development of cleaner burning energy, natural gas, that many believe could be an important stepping stone in the United States’ conversion from coal and oil to green energy and energy independence.

The Mountain Institute wants to promote the development of cleaner burning fuels and other energy alternatives, but with the immense footprint of the drilling operation, the water use and pollution issues, the current lack of enforcable drilling regulations in place and no real movement in the state or country to use the natural gas to replace other current fuels, it is difficult to support development of the resource, especially on our public lands.

I'm not sure of the intent of this comment. Is someone (anonymous) upset with us for not protesting drilling in the Fernow or wondering why we chose one lease over another? I hope that I have helped to answer the question. If anyone has any questions regarding our letter of protest or our stance on Marcellus Shale drilling, please don't hesitate to email or call the office.

jnease@mountain.org

304-567-2632

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