Every day, we hear about the Marcellus shale that lies about 1 mile below the surface of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and eastern Ohio. With horizontal drilling techniques, a single vertical well can be completed that allows multiple horizontal extensions to be drilled and, yes, fracking at the mile-deep base. These wells will produce abundant natural gas, some oil and additional useful chemical byproducts.

For our citizens who own the mineral rights, drilling can be a gold mine. For our state, drilling can secure our economic future and provide jobs for a hundred years. Because of that, the Marcellus is and will continue to be drilled.

The fear of surface water contamination is minimal from the deep wells, since there is much rock barrier from a mile down to the depth of shallow water wells. The well pipes are encased in concrete.

A far greater danger is disposal of the initial fracking water and chemicals that come up the pipes to the surface for a variable span following the drilling. This flow requires safe collection and disposal. The West Virginia Legislature has set rules for deep drilling which may require revisions for a long time.

You may ask, “Why do we need all this natural gas?” Very adequate supplies are available now, and the price is dirt cheap. The answer lies in energy independence for the United States. The real story is foreign oil and conversion of many petroleum users to natural gas. By converting to natural gas, we can pay our citizens money that is now going to OPEC. The U.S. tax base will increase significantly.

We will need a national energy policy that converts diesel trucks to liquid natural gas fuel for the price to be compatible with production costs. If I tell you this technology for heavy trucks has been possible since the year 2000, would you believe me? Check out this website and be astounded: www.westport-hd.com.

But what about President Obama and the activist EPA, you ask? The president is opposed to energy development that uses carbon-based fossil fuels. Many West Virginia union workers are employed in coal, oil and natural gas production. Is this just another reason West Virginians should vote for a presidential change in November? You decide.

Richard Richmond, M.D.

Beckley

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