Two Actions You Can Take to Help Protect West Virginia’s Environment

From our friends at the WV Environmental Council

Action #1: Urge Lawmakers to Solve Abandoned Mine Lands Crisis Without Gouging WV Taxpayers!

Did you know that West Virginia has over 173,000 acres of unreclaimed mineland? This is land left behind after coal companies have mined our mountains. West Virginia has a long way to go to restore the viability of abandoned mine lands which is important to  improve water quality, revitalize landscapes, and create jobs and economic development in coal communities. 

Currently, reclamation liabilities far exceed the money available and this crisis could  end up costing state taxpayers over $1 billion. As a solution to the problem, legislators passed SB1, which will use $50 million in taxpayers dollars to prop up the riskiest coal companies, passing the responsibility on to West Virginia citizens. This number is likely just a starting point.  

What Can You Do? Urge your legislators to address this crisis without gauging taxpayers. Please email your lawmakers (see sample message below)!! 

Read more in this op-ed in the Charleston Gazette

Read our fact sheet here. 

Click here for House Energy Committee emails.

Click here for Senate Energy Committee emails.


Sample message to send to the committee members: 

As a West Virginian, I am concerned about the pending bankruptcy of the Special Reclamation Fund and the underbonding of mineland reclamation sites. Our state faces a very real and costly disaster if we do not take action to create legislation that addresses these issues and provides a solution.

We must raise bond limits for mining bonds, require more stringent bonding authority, and take the liability away from the taxpayers footing the cost for reclamation efforts. Though SB 1 was passed during the 2022 legislative session, it does not address the root of the problem, does not follow the recommendations of the legislative audit report, and makes taxpayers liable to cover reclamation costs. 

Your constituent, 

(insert your name and address)


Action #2: It’s Back – Marcellus Academy 2022 on July 22 and 23

If you are looking for a way to make a difference on climate, clean energy, and water quality, but are not sure where to start, we have great news!

Mark your calendars for July 22-23 for the renewed Marcellus Academy. This weekend workshop will train volunteer activists on how to bring about meaningful regulation of the Marcellus shale drilling industry and the adverse impacts it brings to West Virginia and the world.

The final agenda is coming soon, and topics will include an overview of the technologies used, environmental risks, and how to monitor the sites in your backyard.

We will also develop action plans to implement our legislative campaign to assure adequate bonding for well closure, clean-up, and site reclamation.

The workshop will be held at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. All expenses (lodging, meals, and mileage) will be covered by the WV Chapter of Sierra Club for the first 25 to register, so do it now! Apply by sending your name, address and phone number to Please indicate whether you can attend both Saturday and Sunday, because preference will be given to those who can spend the whole time.

See you in Buckhannon!


Marcellus Academy 2022 Draft Agenda

Saturday, July 23

9:30 AM  Registration, Kresge Room, Coffee

9:40 AM  Welcome, Introductions, & Goals for the Weekend             

Jim Kotcon, Conservation Chair, WV Sierra Club (WVSC)

10:00 AM  TAGIS Training, Gas Well Monitoring, Enforcement & Closure-Update-2022

John King, WV DEP, Office of Environmental Advocate

11:30 AM  Gas well bonding – Dave McMahon – Surface Owners Rights Organization

12:30 PM – 1:15 PM  Lunch (FIRM)

1:30 PM  Mountain Valley Pipeline – Maury Johnson, POWHR

2:30 PM  Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL): A 5-year monitoring study of gas well impacts – Jim Kotcon, WV Sierra Club

3:15 PM  Break

3:30 PM  Methane, Gas Wells, and Climate Change (Speaker to be announced)

4:30 PM  Gas Well Bonding: The Sierra Club’s Legislative Proposals

6:00 PM  Dinner  

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM  The WV Legislature – Who’s Who, How it works, How do we develop a relationship with a legislator, rule maker, commissioner or other power broker so that when we need their influence or vote we have it. Take a legislator to a well or disposal site or have one take you. – Lucia Valentine, WV Environmental Council

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM  Open session for Guest Videos and Slideshows:


Sunday, July 24

8:00 AM  Breakfast

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM   Citizen Gas Well Monitoring Project – Part One: What to look for, and how to report problems.

10:00 AM -11:30 AM  Planning Session for Citizen Monitoring and Enforcement of Gas Infrastructure. – Alex Cole, Sierra Club Organizer

12:30 PM  Lunch (FIRM)

1:00 PM  Field Trip (Hands-on activities to practice your site visit)    

3:30 PM  Depart For Home

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