BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — Not one person who spoke at a public forum on the proposal to build a gas pipeline extension through Berkeley County was in favor of the it.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections moderated public comments from the crowd that gathered in the Berkeley Springs High School auditorium Monday. Around 32 people gave statements as the fair majority in attendance expressed much disapproval about the gas pipeline extension.

Jake Glance from the DEP said afterward that the period for public comments about the issue will be over on Jan. 19 and the responses from this forum will be a part of the permit for the public to see. He added that people can still submit comments to the DEP by email until the deadline.

No one from the state Public Service Commission was in attendance. They previously granted approval for the first phase of the pipeline, but Mountaineer Gas executives will have to re-apply to the commission for the next two phases.

Dr. Matthew Hahn, a family physician from Berkeley Springs, offered his comments at the forum last night. He echoed the thoughts of many others in attendance who are upset that the pipeline is still being discussed.

“They have a vested interest. I think politicians today are changing their views based on who’s paying them the most money. And I think that’s a terrible thing,” Hahn said.

Many in the crowd spoke in favor of alternative means for reusable energy, including Teresa Maloney-Smith from Hagerstown. She said she is hopeful that the overwhelming majority that are opposed to the project will have their voices heard.

“I don’t understand how its gotten this far already,” Maloney-Smith said. “I’m highly skeptical but I’m going to hope and pray that they do the right thing.”

DEP officials said there is no timeline on when a decision will be made on the proposed permit. There will be another public forum on the project later this month in Hancock, Maryland.

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