Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.

Letter To Editor from David Fleming

Thursday November 15, 2007
The Pocahontas Times

Dear Editor,

I wanted to remind readers of the deadline 2 days from now (November 17) of the 30 day public comment period concerning the proposed Consent Decree between the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and Snowshoe Mountain, Inc.

As many readers know, the proposed decree seeks, by the numbers, about $3 million from Snowshoe for long-standing violations of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES permit). But the actual cash amount is a meager $128,000.

Virtually the entire portion of the so-called $3 million settlement is worded in terms of a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), and is taken pretty much in whole to be the estimated value of Snowshoe Water and Sewer's (SWS) sewage infrastructure that Snowshoe is trying to give the Pocahontas PSD as part of the June $2.5 million advance/Snowshoe takeover proposal by the PSD and attorney Tom Michael.

This "mix and match" usage of Snowshoe's existing infrastructure by proponents - who by this Consent Decree quite clearly includes the WVDEP itself - has many moral if not legal problems:

  1. The SWS infrastructure - as jointly proposed in the June $2.5M advance/takeover bid (brought before the WV Public Service Commission) and in this new Consent Decree - is to be removed from service and dismantled if a regional plant gets built. Thus, in the grand scheme of things, it has no effective value whatsoever. Moreover, the dismantling costs of this "valuable" infrastructure are to be paid for by our county.
  2. To a large yet legally untested degree, an SEP cannot include aspects that are required as part of other agreements. The SWS infrastructure being part of the June effort, it is most questionable that the WVDEP and Snowshoe have the right to "double dip" into the SWS infrastructure for the purposes of an SEP.
  3. Morally, it is reprehensible that our WVDEP would, in "good faith," condone the long-running track record of Snowshoe's discharge permit violations with an effective penalty of $128,000 while at the same time snow us over with the $3M illusion that this is an acceptable settlement, and that this is a separate issue from current efforts concerning the proposed sewage facility. Without question, relieving Snowshoe of this timeline of violations is clear progress for proponents in realizing their dream of a "regional" solution upon Sharp Farm property.

Lastly, I wonder what the WVDEP has in mind for the $128,000. I would hope it's not to be used to cover some of the similarly billed administrative expenses pertaining to the proposed regional plant. Can you say "triple-dip" three times fast? By the time you do, it might be too late. So use the contact information below to get heard on this bogus Consent Decree. You have TODAY AND TOMORROW ONLY, so git r done!

Send comments to:

Chief Inspector, Environmental Enforcement
WV Department of Environmental Protection
601 57th St, SE.
Charleston, WV 25304

Phone: 304-926-0495

Governor Joe Manchin:
Phone: 1-888-438-2731

The website has the full Consent Decree under the 10/29 news.

David Fleming
Cass, WV