By John McFerrin
It was not a fit night out for man nor beast as the Board gathered in Charleston for the winter meeting. Any impulse towards soliloquy, rambling, exhortation, declamation, long discussion, etc. was tempered by our mutual desire to be home before dark.
We did have some things to take care. The Executive Committee had been active since the last meeting. Decisions of the Executive Committee are not final until ratified by the Board. We ratified these decisions:
- That we hire Dave Saville as Membership Secretary, replacing Beth Little.
- That we buy a new computer for the use of the Membership Secretary
- That we intervene before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the proceedings over the Big Run Pump Storage Hydroproject and to file comments on that project.
Cindy Ellis talked about her tabling activity. It is very often fun, very occasionally not especially interesting. Regardless, she is going to have to dramatically reduce her tabling. Nobody stepped forward to take the opportunity. Jackie Burns mentioned the possibility that we should consider paying expenses for those who have to go a long way to the tabling location.
Beth Little presented the Membership Report. It showed that we are maintaining a consistent membership.
Treasurer Bob Marshall presented matters financial. First, there was the financial report for 2018, showing the income and expenses for 2018. In the official terminology of the Telling It Like It Is Department, it was boring. It was money coming in, money going out. We have enough to cover our expenses with enough of a cushion to operate.
Next, we considered a budget for 2019. It was largely the same as in the past. It did show the substantial contribution that we agreed to make to the Citizen Surveillance Initiative. That was new. For more on what the Citizen Surveillance Initiative is up to, see the story on p. 12.
Frank Young reported on matters legislative. For what he said, and more, see the story on p. 3.
The Environmental Council feels chronically outgunned. It has three lobbyists who seek to advance its ideas in the face of many times that many industry lobbyists who oppose those ideas. The Environmental Council has a lobbying budget of $23,000, of which the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy provides $6,000.
On matters of public lands, Kent Karriker talked about the proposed Big Run Pump Storage Hydroproject. For what he said (and more) see the story on p. 4.
We discussed briefly whether we would categorically oppose pump storage facilities such as the one proposed for Big Run. While there was no vote or extensive discussion, it was the general sense of the meeting that we would not. This one was in an unsuitable location so we would oppose it but we would not categorically oppose such facilities.
Larry Thomas plans to attend the meeting of the West Virginians for Public Lands Committee this week. The rumor is that the proposal to timber in State Parks will not be brought up at the Legislature this year. If this rumor proves to be true, then the West Virginians for Public Lands will have time to devote to other efforts.
In matters of outreach, we discussed whether we wanted to have a Fall Review. Jackie Burns, Jim VanGundy, Cindy Ellis, and Marilyn Shoenfeld are on the committee to plan it. They will be considering possible music, a speaker, location, etc.
In matters of extractive industries, Cindy Ellis reported on the Mountaineer Express Pipeline (MXP). The developers, Columbia/TransCanada recently requested and received permission for “partial” operation of much of the line and its compressor stations in 14 western WV counties. “Winterization” and “reclamation” continue to be in progress on some portions. West Virginia Highlands Conservancy did participate in a comment letter opposing the minimal nature of fines by WV DEP for violations during construction. Some of those violations occurred in Putnam and Jackson counties, but the majority were in beleaguered Doddridge. The volunteer stream monitoring (which WVHC helped sponsor) will continue for at least a year after initial operation of the line.
Hugh Rogers reported on the status of Corridor H. Construction is still subject to the Cease and Desist Order that was issued in very late September, 2018. Activity is limited to efforts to correct the problems that led to the Order.