Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARCELLUS BOOM ; Tomblin's Gas Safety Panel Begins Work

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARCELLUS BOOM ; Tomblin's Gas Safety Panel Begins Work

Article excerpt

A commission appointed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to investigate worker safety and health problems in West Virginia's natural gas business started its work Thursday with a series of presentations from federal and state officials who explained the roles various agencies play in overseeing the industry. Tomblin kicked off the meeting with brief remarks in which he promoted continued growth in natural gas production, but said that "workplace safety must also be an expectation for businesses operating here.

"Despite the efforts of some, I remain very confident that our state will continue to supply the nation's energy needs well into the future, the governor said.

Tomblin said, though, that he remains concerned that growth of gas drilling and associated activities, focused in the state's Marcellus Shale region, brought with it an increase in workplace accidents in recent years.

Speakers at the first meeting of the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Safety Commission included officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Service Commission and the state Department of Transportation. They explained how their separate agencies regulate different parts of the industry, from drilling new wells, monitoring actively producing operations, and keeping track of transmission and distribution pipelines across the state.

The 19-member commission reflects the complex web of gas production sites, processing facilities and transportation operations that is sprouting up as part of the natural gas industry's growth, with members from each sector of the industry.

Last month, Tomblin named the commission's members, including seven gas industry and two labor representatives, after announcing in his State of the State address in January that he would form the panel. …

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