Friday, February 25, 2011

Marcellus bills advance

Yet another up-to-the-minute update from the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization:

Although our chances of passing legislation to address problems with both Marcellus Shale and other gas well drilling were starting to dim this week, as things currently stand, there are two bills still in play.

After several strengthening amendments were adopted by a House Judiciary subcommittee, one version spent a couple of days being almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, many of the changes adopted by the subcommittee were not considered in the final version of the bill advanced by the full Judiciary Committee.

However, HB 2878 still includes several good provisions including:
-A requirement that drillers give surface owners at least 30 days notice before coming onto the land to survey for proposed well sites, access roads or other work requiring disturbance of the surface.
-A requirement that drillers offer to meet with surface owners prior to surveying, to explain their preference for locations of well sites, impoundments, access roads, and pipelines.
-For horizontal wells, increasing the distance gas wells must be from dwellings and water wells, from 200 to 1,000 feet.
-For horizontal wells, the presumption of water well contamination or loss is expanded from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet, and pre-drilling testing parameters are expanded to include chemicals known to be commonly used in hydraulic fracturing.

We understand there will be a request to waive the bill's second reference to the House Finance Committee.

We are less enthusiastic about the pared down version of the DEP bill (SB 424) that was advanced by the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee. That bill is now headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The fact that there are two bills still alive, means legislators are serious about passing something this session.

Thanks to everyone who made calls and sent e-mails, etc. for helping us to get to this point!
Watch for more details on what's in and not in these two bills, and be prepared to make more calls, etc. to keep the momentum going.

-- Julie Archer
WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization
1500 Dixie StreetCharleston, WV 25311
(304) 346-5891(304) 346-8981 FAX

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