MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. -- The Moundsville City Council passed a resolution late last month endorsing the "Marcellus Principles" that support hiring local workers for jobs in the state's growing Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
The "Marcellus Principles" seek to guarantee that West Virginia citizens benefit from the development of Marcellus Shale gas deposits in the state, which are concentrated in its northern and western counties.
Many areas of West Virginia, including many of those counties, have suffered from high unemployment rates in recent years.
The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, a statewide coalition of unions representing construction workers, has criticized Marcellus Gas companies for bringing in too many workers from other states.
Jobs For Local Workers, a group based in Charleston, is urging companies and government officials to sign onto the "Marcellus Principles."
"It's sad, but many West Virginia citizens are watching the natural gas industry flourish in their own backyards, while RVs and trucks with license plates from Texas, Louisiana and other far flung states roll into their communities to do the jobs local workers should be doing," said Dave Efaw, secretary-treasurer of ACT.
Efaw praised MarkWest Energy and Caiman Energy for hiring local workers to build their gas-processing plants in Marshall County.
Resolutions backing the "Marcellus Principles" have been passed by the state Senate, the New Martinsville City Council and county commissions in Brooke, Hancock, Harrison, Marshall, Ohio, Wetzel and Wood counties.
Robert C. Orndorff Jr., managing director of government affairs for Dominion Resources -- a major Marcellus Shale company -- recently said, "We hire union labor. We have 1,300 employees in West Virginia; 80 percent of them are union workers, but we don't always hire union labor under our contracts."
Companies like Dominion often hire independent contractors to do some of their construction projects.
Steve White, executive director of the ACT Foundation, has been particularly critical of those contractors for bringing in almost all their workers from other states.
Plans to expand Marcellus Shale gas production have also stirred up local opposition from residents concerned about the environmental impact that deep drilling for the gas will have on the stability of their lands and purity of their streams and underground waters.
Marcellus and Utica Shale deposits run from southwestern New York through Pennsylvania down to eastern Ohio and West Virginia and are among the world's largest natural gas deposits.
Last year, three West Virginia cities -- Lewisburg, Morgantown and Wellsburg -- banned Marcellus Shale drilling within their borders.
Last month, two New York state judges in Otsego and Tompkins counties ruled that local governments have the power to ban fracking for gas, challenging a New York state regulation that local governments cannot do that.
More than 50 local communities in New York have passed bans on gas drilling within their borders.
The "Marcellus Principles" are online at: www.jobsforlocalworkers.com
.Reach Paul J. Nyden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5164.