Coal and Gas in Appalachia
Dec. 10 2017 Letters-to-the-Editor by Ron Teska, Belleville, WV
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
We lost our spring when Consol energy plugged a gas well to longwall mine. We lost our water well due to EQT Corporation plugging a gas well. And we are not connected to the tank of chlorinated river water folks are now paying for that used to be their free ice cold crystal clear springs and wells.
Particles of dust as well as methane, toluene, etc., are emitted 24/7. I stopped at a local tavern with six people in the place and every one of them suffers from COPD.
The tanker trucks, and heavy equipment traffic on the roads that used to be dirt roads with grass growing down the middle are running people off the roads and creating accidents and making driving hazardous and toxic with diesel fumes. I talked to a neighbor and mentioned how I was getting run off the roads and he stated “Yea, they run me off the road too,” and lifted his shirt to show 30 stitches down his stomach.
Rents jumped from $200-$300 a month to $1200-$1600 a month per worker. Folks no longer can find places to live, as rental units will not rent for a low price anymore when they can get a lot of money. This appears like it is helping the local folks but in reality families are not renting to their own kin and marginal income folks are not able to stay where they have been for years due to this increase.
Heroine and opioids have infiltrated this area due to the workers and their money and situations.
A bale of straw went from $2 a bale to $16 a bale and gas prices are much higher than before or outside the work areas.
Folks that have lived here for generations are finding themselves taking $150,000 to $300,000 for their ancestral homes. I went to an auction of a 10 acre farm with a small house worth up until now about $40,000. The auctioneer started the bid at $125,000, and Consol Energy raised their hand; auction over. The couple with a baby in their arms waiting to bid on this farm near where their family lives just sadly walked away. And the owner of the farm bought a new pickup truck, went on vacation, and now lives in a camper. The house was torn down.
A local cemetery has had graves sink and the new high school has been cracked by longwall mining.