DEP eliminates protections for noise, light from natural gas facilities

By Ken Ward, Jr
Charleston Gazette – Mail

DEP Secretary Austin Caperton

Less than two weeks after taking office, Gov. Jim Justice’s administration quietly deleted permit language intended to protect residents in West Virginia’s natural gas regions from excessive noise and bright lights from compressor stations and other facilities that are springing up across those communities.

On Jan. 27, the state Department of Environmental Protection removed from a streamlined permit for compressor stations and some other facilities language that stated such operations “shall not create a nuisance to the surrounding community by way of unreasonable noise and light during operations.”

The DEP, now headed by Justice appointee Austin Caperton, made the change in direct response to a request from the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, according to agency records.

The DEP’s action comes just five months after agency lawyers, under the Tomblin administration, successfully defended the language against a legal challenge from the industry trade association. The reversal by the new leadership at DEP was noted on a posting buried on the agency website, and it emerged publicly only when mention of it showed up in one of Caperton’s emails, included as part of a collection of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Full story HERE

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