A West Virginia woman was taken by the arm and removed from a public hearing on Friday after she refused to stop listing gas and oil industry contributions to members of the House Judiciary Committee who eventually vote on an industry-sponsored bill to allow drilling on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.
Lisa Lucas, of Cairo, West Virginia, is running for the House of Delegates from Ritchie County - a county where fracking companies have become prevalent.
“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”
Lucas mentioned early in her remarks that the public only receives a small block of time to comment, whereas industry lobbyists have extraordinary access to public officials:
“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,” Lucas said.
(Lucas was referring to the Whiskey, Wine and Policy Winter Legislative Reception at the Charleston Marriott Hotel on February 7 sponsored by the Shale Energy Alliance.)
The tone had been set, but it was when Lucas began listing off the committee members' received donations from the oil and gas industry that Chairman John Schott shut her down:
“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.”
Schott informed Lucas that personal comments were not allowed, but Lucas denied her comments were personal and did not stand down.
“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 said. “If you would, just address the bill. If not, I would ask you to just step down.”
Lucas barged ahead to Delegate Jason Harshbarger (R-7)—who she will face off against in November for the seat from Ritchie County. Harshbarger works for Dominion Energy.
“About 40 percent of his money (campaign contributions) comes from the oil and natural gas industry,” Lucas said.
Security guards then arrived at the podium next to Lucas, moved her microphone, and told her to leave.
Lucas said they would have to drag her off - and they did.