Lewis County commissioners took no formal action Monday on a proposal to support a moratorium on Marcellus shale drilling, but said they understood the need to preserve the environment for future generations.
Myra Bonhage Hale, a member of the Lewis County Concerned Citizens, presented a plan being backed by the Sierra Club that would ask the state to delay the issuing of any further drilling permits until specific safeguards are put into law.
"Drilling is turning our earth toxic and our water into fire," she said. "It's not what good stewardship of the earth is all about."
Some of those proposed ideas wanted by the Sierra Club and its local supporters are mandatory Department of Environmental Protection inspections, tracers added to the fracking fluids, air pollution monitored at and around the drilling site and a guarantee that a permanent water source would be found should the drilling damage a resident's source of water. The group is also wanting towns and counties to have some control over the issuing of drilling permits.
"We need energy, but we don't need to throw the baby out with the poisonous flow-back water," Hale said. "We don't want to be the grandparents whose grandchildren look back at them with scorn."
Commissioner Pat Boyle said he understands the consequences of allowing the oil and gas industry to go unregulated or even unmonitored, but said the drilling operations have had a profound economic impact on the region and the state. He said there has to be a balance struck between having jobs in the short term and preserving the land in the long term.
"A lot of us don't understand the consequences for future generations," Boyle said. "We are just at the tip of the iceberg right now."