The latest update from the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization:
Both of the anticipated bills regulating Marcellus Shale gas drilling have now been introduced in the West Virginia legislature.
The “Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Drilling Gas Act” (HB 2878 & SB 258), which was prepared by legislative staff for an interim study committee, was introduced two weeks ago. A second bill drafted by the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was introduced last Friday (2/4) in the Senate (SB 424) and Monday in the House of Delegates (HB 3042). As previously noted, both bills are long and legally and technically complex.
On Wednesday, WV-SORO representatives joined our friends at the WV Environmental Council for their annual E-Day at the Legislature. Activists and concerned citizens from around the state traveled to Charleston to urge their legislators to support legislation regulating Marcellus Shale drilling.
Several legislators are heeding the call. Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler, Senators Dan Foster and Orphy Klempa, and Delegates Tim Manchin, Barbara Fleischauer, and Mike Manypenny joined WV-SORO, WVEC and its member organizations and allies for a press conference to emphasize the urgent need for legislative action. “Do it right,” was a common theme in the remarks of these legislators.
In addition to the E-Day activities on Marcellus Shale drilling, the House Judiciary and Finance Committees held their third joint informational meeting to hear presentations from various experts and stakeholders. Previous topics covered included economic development opportunities related to Marcellus Shale development, DOH policies to address damage caused to roads and bridges, and community impacts.
The speakers at Wednesday’s meeting discussed pooling and unitization, water use and surface owners’ rights. Wetzel County farmers Marty Whiteman and Ed Wade gave first-hand accounts of what it is like to contend with the light, noise, air pollution and heavy truck traffic that have become part of everyday life for them and other residents of the county. They also urged lawmakers to consider the rights of surface owners as they craft the pending measures, to involve them in the planning of where and how well sites and access roads will be built, and to ensure they are fairly compensated.
Marty and Ed put a human face on the problem, showing the pollution and destruction caused by drillers is affecting real people, and we appreciate that they were invited and took advantage of the opportunity to come to Charleston to share their stories. Thanks Marty and Ed!
Following the informational meeting, a Judiciary Subcommittee was announced to work on HB 2878, the “Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Drilling Gas Act.” The subcommittee held its first meeting Thursday morning, and we expect them to resume their work this Monday.
Finally, House Judiciary Committee members may have the opportunity to hear from other surface owners, including YOU. We've heard there may be a hearing on one or both of the Marcellus bills, so keep a sharp eye out early next week for details, and plan to come and testify if you can. It may be the only time average citizens will make their case, so we hope for a good turnout. But notice may be short.
We’ll continue to keep you posted.
-- Julie Archer
WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization
1500 Dixie Street
Charleston, WV 25311(304) 346-5891(304) 346-8981 FAX