The Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGAWV) said Wednesday it has launched a new alliance, Just Beneath the Surface (JBTS), to provide the public with information and debunk myths about the industry.
IOGAWV spokesman Matthew Sutton told NGI's Shale Daily on Thursday that unlike the IOGAWV -- which is a statewide nonprofit trade association for the industry with paying members -- JBTS is a free membership group designed for citizens, manufacturers, government leaders and the like.
"There has been a lot of misinformation about the dangers that may be associated with hydraulic fracturing; some people think that it's a new process," Sutton said. "[JBTS] is going to be a place where people can come to get information about what's going on that hasn't really been readily available."
IOGAWV President Mike McCown added that JBTS "will provide a unified voice for the industry; it will allow individuals, businesses and government leaders to work together to further develop West Virginia as a leader in providing reliable domestic energy."
Sutton said the JBTS -- through its website and social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter -- envisions serving the public as a clearinghouse of information, providing details about the hydraulic fracturing process and the chemicals used for it.
"It will be the one place where people can come and find all of the information they need, rather than searching through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection website, or those of production companies," Sutton said.
Wednesday's launch took place at the University of Charleston's Triana Field, a reclaimed gas well site that is now an athletic field. Sutton said members of both political parties and the state House of Delegates and the Senate were present at the event.
"JBTS is not a lobbying group," Sutton said. "From what we've gathered in talking to elected officials about the industry in general, this group will be about making sure that the regulations are there but also making sure people understand the benefits of what natural gas does. We expect to see supporters from the Democrats and the Republicans, from the far left and the far right."
JBTS said it has more than 1,000 businesses and individuals as members and it is encouraging others to register and join the alliance at www.justbeneaththesurvacewv.com.