Friday, March 11, 2011

Last chance for gas bill

The latest update from the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization:

URGENT - Please call or email your representatives in the House of Delegates ASAP, and ask them to “VOTE YES” on the House version of SB 424. This is our last chance to pass a bill this session to regulate drilling in the Marcellus Shale and provide additional notice, etc. to surface owners about all gas well drilling.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee amended and strengthened SB 424 and the House Finance Committee signed off on those changes today. (More details below.) It is important that your Delegates hear from you in support of a strong bill.

Please call or e-mail your Delegates and ask them to:

Support the House Judiciary Committee amendments,

Oppose any amendments to weaken the bill, and

Pass a strong bill that protects West Virginia’s surface owners, water resources, environment and natural resources, mineral owners and work force. If you e-mail, put "Please VOTE YES 424" in the subject line.

If the House passes the bill, the House and Senate will have to work out an agreement between the two versions of the bill by Saturday, when the legislative session ends. We are hopeful that the House will act on this much needed legislation.

Once you've contacted your Delegate(s), please contact your Senators and urge them to support the House version of SB 424, because it does a better job of protecting West Virginia’s surface owners, water resources, environment and natural resources, mineral owners and work force.

This may be the last time you hear from us before the legislative session ends. We hope to have good news the next time we're in touch. In the meantime, please help us keep the pressure on and thanks for all you do!

Good Provisions Amended into SB 424 by the House Judiciary Committee:

-Requiring all new oil and gas leases to have language advising the signer to consult with an attorney.

-A pre-survey notice to surface owners that applies to ALL new wells, not just to horizontal wells, and is 30 days in advance of the entry to survey.

-Requires the driller to offer to meet with the surface owner.

-Requiring horizontal wells to be 1000 feet from occupied dwellings and water wells unless the owner consents, or unless a variance (with conditions) is granted.

-Requiring horizontal wells to be 100 feet from a watercourse, pond, or wetland.

-Requiring horizontal wells to be more than 1000 feet upstream of a surface public water supply, and more than 1000 feet from groundwater public water supply.

-Allowing the state to deny or condition a horizontal well permit based on impact to parks, rare habitats, historical sites, bodies of water, etc.

-Requiring horizontal wells to be inspected during each phase of cementing, completing and altering before the company can proceed.

-Extending water well testing near horizontal wells from 1000 to 5,500 feet, if requested by the water well owner.

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

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