Lawmakers in West Virginia had a woman removed from the lectern forcibly as she opposed a bill that would give rights to the oil and gas companies to drill on “minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.”
According to current law, a 100 percent approval has to be obtained by energy companies before they can develop land.
Lissa Lucas, a Democratic candidate for West Virginia’s seventh district, was objecting the proposed bill, HB 4268, as she read a list of list of House members and the money they collected in donations from the oil and gas industry.
“The people who are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry,” Lucas said, noting that “the people who are going to be voting on this bill are often also paid by the industry.”
“I have to keep this short because the public only gets a minute and 45 seconds while lobbyists can throw a gala at the Marriott with whiskey and wine and talk for hours to the delegates,” she continued, referring to the Whiskey, Wine and Policy Winter Legislative Reception at the Charleston Marriott Hotel held on Feb. 7 sponsored by the Shale Energy Alliance.
Lucas then started reading the list of donations, pointing toward the chairman, John Shott (R-Mercer).
“John Shott. First Energy $2,000. Appalachian Power $2,000. Steptoe & Johnson — that’s a gas and oil law firm — $2,000. Consol Energy $1,000. EQT $1,000. And I could go on,” she said.
“Miss Lucas, we ask that no personal comments be made,” Shott responded.
“This is not a personal comment,” Lucas said.
“It is a personal comment and I am going to call you out of order if you are talking about individuals on the committee,” Shott fired back. “If you would, just address the bill. If not, I would ask you to just step down.”
But that didn’t stop the anti-fracking activist as she hurriedly tried to read other names. She mentioned Delegate Jason Harshbarger whose campaign received “about 40 percent" in contributions from the oil and natural gas industry.
However, soon her microphone was cut off by two security guards who dragged her off the lectern.
"I want to finish," she can be heard saying.
But the guards told her that wasn’t possible.
"Drag me out, then," she said.
“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas wrote on her personal blog. “Allow me to point out that if Delegates genuinely think that my talking about who their campaign donors are — and how much they’re receiving from corporate lobbyists/corporate PACs — is an ad hominem attack… then they should be refusing those donations.”
Lucas and other detractors argue disagree with the notion that oil and gas firms have provided enough jobs or tax revenue. If anything, it has damaged the state's ecosystem just to make more money.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters