Tag Archives: Autumn Long

West Virginia Residents in Heart of Fracking Fields Join in National Action

‘Hands Across Our Land’ event draws about 40 people in hard-hit Doddridge County

By Michael M. Barrick

WEST UNION, W.Va. – About 40 people from all over North Central West Virginia joined hands at 6 p.m. on Aug. 18th over Middle Island Creek, the longest creek in the United States and one that has been severely impacted by fracking and the ongoing construction of the Stonewall Gas Gathering pipeline through four West Virginia counties. They gathered on the “Rails to Trails” bridge that spans the creek at the entrance to this tiny hamlet, which is the county seat to one of the most heavily impacted counties in the United States from fracking.

Standing in Solidarity Photo courtesy of Doddridge County Watershed Association

Standing in Solidarity
Photo courtesy of Doddridge County Watershed Association

The residents were taking part in a grassroots uprising that included people from across Appalachia and beyond opposed to the development of further natural gas infrastructure and the related extractive process of fracking. They were joined by citizens in at least nine states, from New York to Oregon, according to Sharon Ponton of Nelson County, Va. and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, a sponsor of the action. Other sponsors included the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Beyond Extreme Energy.

Wayne Woods, president of the Doddridge County Watershed Association (DCWA), explained the significance of the location, noting, “The park is located along Middle Island Creek that has been impacted by gas drilling in the Doddridge County area. We are conducting this solidarity action to let the fossil fuel industry and community leaders know that while we are separate grassroots organizations we stand with each other in opposition to the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

As folks gathered on the bridge, he added, “I remember a few years ago I was telling a state legislator that we were starting a watershed group in Doddridge County and somebody that was with him just laughed. Well, we’ve accomplished some things, we’ve opened up the eyes of people, and we’re not going to stop.”

Tina Delprete of Doddridge County shared, “I’m here to try and make a statement. I just want to let people know that not everyone loves it.” Indeed, she saw the turnout as progress in educating the public. “Usually, we get the same handful of people. This is a good turnout for such a small town. More is better. And there will be more.”

Chuck Lothes of neighboring Harrison County pointed to New York State as an example for West Virginia to follow. He explained, “We all know that the Marcellus and Utica Shell start in New York. That’s a fact. That state is also tens of millions of dollars in debt. That’s a fact. Yet, the people of New York have found that the technology associated with the extraction industry and pipeline development is so hideous, so damaging to the people and the environment, that they said they don’t want it. They did this after long, detailed, scientific research. I want the people of West Virginia to do the same.”

Douglas Geelhaar, a DCWA member, echoed those sentiments, saying, “I believe there should be a moratorium on fracking until it can be proven to be done safely and the people it impacts are taken into consideration.”

Denise Binion of Taylor County, and a member of the executive committee of The West Virginia Mountain Party, offered, “The two-party system has failed the people of West Virginia.” She added, “The West Virginia Mountain Party supports a moratorium on fracking due to the concerns of radiation, drill cuttings and frack waste.” She was also critical of the tactics used by the gas extraction industry to rely upon eminent domain to build pipelines. “We believe this is not a case of eminent domain. In fact, the opposite is true. No public good will come of it. Only the corporations will benefit.”

Steve Hamilton, also of Harrison County, said, “I don’t think the pipeline should be built. There is simply too much danger. They want to take them through two national forests. If pipelines are so great, why not take the easiest route – the highway system? They won’t do that because it is too dangerous.”

Autumn Long, who lives in nearby Wallace, said, “This day of action brings together communities that are geographically dispersed but united by exploitation suffered at the hands of the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel development is destroying our environment, impacting our health, and degrading our quality of life. By publicly linking hands across our land, we are demonstrating opposition to this exploitation and solidarity in our shared struggle.”

Ponton said the goal of Hands Across Our Land is to call attention to the plight of rural communities, to build solidarity and to make connections. She said, “Rural America will not be a sacrifice zone for the energy industry in their attempts to put profit before people. These grassroots groups and many others stood up together to protect the watersheds of millions of Americans from dangerous drilling practices, to stop their homes and families’ health from being put at risk, and to use their collective voices to loudly proclaim that their land will not be stolen by the misuse of eminent domain.” She added, “Our elected officials should listen to the people.”

Free Nelson founder and Episcopal priest, the Rev. Marion Kanour, wondered, “What could our world become if corporations were guided by environmental and social responsibility rather than greed?”

Related Articles:
A Dirty Dozen Reasons to Oppose Fracking
Standing Their Ground
West Virginia Couple Models Renewable Energy
Fracking Poses Threats to Public Health

© The Appalachian Preservation Project, 2015. The Appalachian Chronicle is a publication of the Appalachian Preservation Project. If you find this writing of value, we hope that you will consider support our independent work by becoming a member of the Appalachian Preservation Project. By doing so, you will be supporting not only this website, but also our other outreaches, programs and partnerships.

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West Virginians and Pennsylvanians Standing in Solidarity Against Natural Gas Industry

Communities in midst of fracking boom to hold ‘Hands Across Our Land’ events

By Michael M. Barrick

WEST UNION, W.Va. – Here, where the odors, sights, sounds and overall destruction of fracking is most felt, residents are participating in “Hands Across Our Land,” a national action being held in locations throughout Appalachia and beyond in opposition to fracking and the related development of the natural gas industry.

According to Wayne Woods, president of the Doddridge County Watershed Association (DCWA), that group “ … and concerned citizens from all over North Central West Virginia will meet Tuesday August 18th at 6 p.m. for the Hands Across Our Land event. It will be held at the West Union Park in West Union.”

Meathouse Fork in Doddridge County with heavy sediment resulting from pipeline construction

Meathouse Fork in Doddridge County with heavy sediment resulting from pipeline construction

Woods explained the significance of the location, noting, “The park is located along Middle Island Creek that has been impacted by gas drilling in the Doddridge County area. We are conducting this solidarity action to let the fossil fuel industry and community leaders know that while we are separate grassroots organization we stand with each other in opposition to the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Autumn Long, a resident in neighboring Harrison County intends to participate. She shared, “This day of action brings together communities that are geographically dispersed but united by exploitation suffered at the hands of the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel development is destroying our environment, impacting our health, and degrading our quality of life. By publicly linking hands across our land, we are demonstrating opposition to this exploitation and solidarity in our shared struggle.”

Stonewall Gathering Pipeline construction as seen from a hilltop in Doddridge County, W.Va.

Stonewall Gathering Pipeline construction as seen from a hilltop in Doddridge County, W.Va.

Meanwhile, further north, Pennsylvanians and West Virginians will join hands at Point Marion, Pa., near the boundary between the two states. Southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia are situation in the heart of the Marcellus Shale boom and thus are experiencing public health and safety threats associated with the industry, as well as ecological destruction.

Duane Nichols is the Hands Across Our Land coordinator for the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition. He said, “We will be meeting on the Monongahela River Bridge in Pt. Marion at12:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Private citizens and members of other organizations from northern West Virginia will join those from Greene, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties in Pennsylvania. We will form a chain across the bridge, thus joining ‘Hands Across Our Land.’”

Learn more:
For the Doddridge County event, visit the DCWA Facebook page or its page for this event.
For the state line event, contact Nichols at Duane330@aol.com.

Related Articles:
Appalachian Residents Joining Hands in Opposition to Pipeline Development and Fracking
A Dirty Dozen Reasons to Oppose Fracking
Fracking Poses Threats to Public Health

© The Appalachian Preservation Project, 2015. The Appalachian Chronicle is a publication of the Appalachian Preservation Project. If you find this writing of value, we hope that you will consider support our independent work by becoming a member of the Appalachian Preservation Project. By doing so, you will be supporting not only this website, but also our other outreaches, programs and partnerships.

We are on Facebook
On Twitter: @appchronicle

West Virginia Couple Models Renewable Energy

Open House demonstrates benefits of solar power

By Michael M. Barrick

WALLACE, W.Va. – Autumn Long and Dan Harrington, a couple living in the heart of West Virginia’s fracking region, opened their home to the public on July 12 to demonstrate the potential of solar power as a reliable and cost-effective renewable energy source. Approximately 50 people from at least 13 counties – some traveling several hours – turned out on an overcast day that included periods of light rain.

While such weather might seem less than desirable for demonstrating solar energy, attendees learned that even on a cloudy day, the solar panels the couple had installed by PIMBY – a company based in the small mountain town of Thomas, W.Va. – were supplying all of the couple’s power needs that day. While the panels are capable of producing 2,700 kilowatts of power per hour, on this day it was fluctuating between 800 and 1,200 kilowatts per hour. Even at that relatively low production, the proof was there for everyone to see – an electric meter spinning backwards.

Folks listen to homeowner Autumn Long talk about their solar-powered home, which is in the background

Folks listen to homeowner Autumn Long talk about their solar-powered home, which is in the background

The couple also showed a recent electric bill showing that they have hours banked with their local power company, Harrison Rural Electrification Association, Inc. As Long pointed out, the credits they’ve earned include not only the house they have powered by the solar panels, but another home on the property, Harrington’s childhood home. The original house is not powered by the panels, but as Long pointed out, under West Virginia law, a home on a contiguous parcel of land is eligible for any credits earned by the landowner’s own power production.

As Matt Sherald, owner of PIMBY pointed out, “They are their own power plant.”

The solar panels that power the couple's home as seen from the home's deck.

The solar panels that power the couple’s home as seen from the home’s deck.

Explaining why they had opened their home for the day, Long said, “The basic reason we wanted to host an open house was to give people an opportunity to view a working solar array up close, and to demonstrate that it is possible for regular people like us to go solar and thereby save money, conserve resources, and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.” She added, “I hope our advocacy will help promote the use of renewables in West Virginia and inspire others to consider going solar.”

John Cobb, a Lewis County resident who attended the gathering, said “Thanks for giving up your day to help educate us on the power of solar energy creation which will be the wave of the future here in West Virginia as the price of solar power installation continues to drop.” Long responded, “You have perfectly summed up the contrast between the current situation of fossil fuel extraction and the potential for a renewable future. I sincerely believe that this nation and world is on the brink of a radical and rapid shift in how our energy is produced, distributed, and consumed, and I am excited to be part of that change.”

Long also provided tours of the couple’s home, pointing out the ways they limit their power usage. They have no air conditioner, no water pump (as the house receives its water from a spring above the house – in short, relying upon gravity), have purchased the most energy-efficient appliances available, heat with a wood stove, and have all LED lighting. She shared, “We’re super into energy efficiency.” So, she noted, “We have been producing way more power than we consume.”

Autumn Long explains the process of powering their home by solar panels

Autumn Long explains the process of powering their home by solar panels

The couple, who own Goldenseal Garden Care, a landscaping company, spent approximately $13,000 on the system. The majority – $10,000 – was invested in the panels. The balance went for the inverter, wiring and hardware. The panels are actually several hundred feet from the home so that they would be located to maximize exposure to the sun. They built a small out building to place them on and ran the wire underground to their home.

As visitors checked out the out building and the home, and visited in small groups to discuss the work done by the couple, Long said, “Now is the time to make the transition to renewables for financial and environmental reasons.”

© The Appalachian Preservation Project, 2015. The Appalachian Chronicle is a publication of the Appalachian Preservation Project. If you find this writing of value, we hope that you will consider support our independent work by becoming a member of the Appalachian Preservation Project. You can learn more here. By doing so, you will be supporting not only this website, but also our other outreaches, programs and partnerships.

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On Twitter: @appchronicle