Thursday, December 15, 2011

Report: Abundance of Shale Gas Resources May Spark Manufacturing Renaissance, 1M New Jobs

The abundance of shale gas resources may spark a U.S. manufacturing renaissance with economic benefits that include cost savings, greater investments to expand U.S. manufacturing facilities and increased levels of employment, according to a new report released today by PwC titled, Shale Gas: A renaissance in US manufacturing?.

"Manufacturers and communities throughout the country are beginning to see and recognize the real economic benefits of shale gas," said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. "Shale gas development is a bright spot in our economy and it has the potential to boost manufacturing employment by one million jobs, which are badly needed."

Click to see the report.

West Virginia Enacts New Horizontal Drilling Regulatory Law

West Virginia has a new regulatory program for horizontal drilling and production activities. Yesterday, lawmakers passed H.B. 401, the Horizontal Well Act. The act, which was proposed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, "provides clear rules to the natural gas industry, protects our communities, surface owners and waterways while sending a clear message – West Virginia wants jobs and we will protect our rights and our environment,” according to a press release from the Governor's office.

The Governor's statement notes that the new law "provides distinct permitting and regulatory rules so that the natural gas industry can develop job opportunities and invest in West Virginia. The Act also provides the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with sufficient funding and regulatory authority, ensuring the safety and protection of our communities, waterways and surface owner rights. Through provisions pertaining to the repair and maintenance of roads, notice of drilling activity to surface owners and reporting of water and frack fluid usage, the Act will generate responsible Marcellus Shale development throughout West Virginia."

For more information about the new law and its provisions, please contact Nick Casey at Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

W.Va. Legislature Nearing Final Passage Of Governor's Marcellus Bill

The West Virginia Legislature is nearing passage of a Marcellus regulatory bill. Both houses have now passed versions of the bill proposed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Lawmakers are meeting in special session this week to consider legislation that would require higher permit fees, added buffer zone provisions and more regulatory oversight of horizontal gas drilling and production activities in the state.

Click to read the Senate's bill (Eng. S.B. 4001)....and the House version (H.B. 401 - note, amendments have been made to this version).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lawmakers Begin Special Session On Governor's Marcellus Regulatory Bill

Lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol last evening to start a special session dedicated soley to working on Governor Tomblin's Marcellus regulatory bill (click to read). The Governor’s bill is an effort to reach consensus on legislation that will serve as “a significant step forward in the development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia.” The administration is seeking to strike a balance between concerns of industry, environmentalists and surface owners. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for this afternoon, and the session is expected to conclude by the end of this week.

Here are news articles about the special session:

Marcellus bill would set $10,000 permit fees, require advance notice - http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201112110128

Legislature starts special session on Marcellus rules - http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201112110065

Lawmakers confident in passage of Governor’s Marcellus package - http://www.statejournal.com/story/16301657/lawmakers-confident-in-passage-of-governors-marcellus-package

Details of Governor's Marcellus bill - http://www.statejournal.com/story/16301232/governors-marcellus-shale-bill-unveiled

Friday, December 9, 2011

Marcellus Special Session Set For Sunday, December 11

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced today he will issue a proclamation calling the members of the Legislature into special session, beginning at 5 p.m., Sunday, December 11, 2011.

"We have the opportunity to pass landmark legislation that will be a significant step forward in the development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia. I believe we can complete the legislation next week," Gov. Tomblin said. "I want to express my sincere appreciation to the legislative interim committee for their hard work in crafting a piece of legislation. Over the past weeks we have consulted with and sought the input of all stakeholders at this monumental juncture in our state's history.

"As we move into this special Legislative session, I want to thank President Kessler and Speaker Thompson and their leadership teams for their efforts over the past weeks on this legislation. Working with Legislative leaders, I believe we now have sufficient consensus on a piece of legislation that is in the best interest of West Virginia. We look forward to working with the Legislature to pass legislation next week."

The highlight provisions of the special session legislation include:
• Accepting the interim committee's recommended permit fee structure of $10,000 for the first well and $5,000 for subsequent wells. This will enable more qualified inspectors to be on the ground enforcing necessary regulations and more permit reviewers to evaluate more permits in a more timely fashion.
• Requirements that operators obtain an agreement with the West Virginia Division of Highways to maintain and repair roads affected by drilling.
• Standards designed to protect the state's water resources including private wells, streams, and wetland areas.
• Additional rights to surface owners where the drilling is expected to occur.
• Well location restrictions, including the setback from occupied dwellings of 625 feet, as recommended by the Legislature.
"In drafting this Legislation, my office has had one key goal in mind: protecting the environment while providing clear rules to the natural gas industry so that they may continue to develop job opportunities and invest in West Virginia," Gov. Tomblin said.

News Articles:

Tomblin calls special session on Marcellus drilling
Associated Press, Dec. 9, 2011

Special legislative session on Marcellus shale in W.Va. will begin Sunday
The State Journal, Dec. 9, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Governor Tomblin Reportedly Looking To Call Marcellus Special Session

A Wheeling newspaper is reporting that Governor Tomblin is expressing hope that he may set a special session next week to take up legislation on Marcellus regulations. The newspaper says the Governor wants to take up the matter outside of the 60-day regular session of the West Virginia Legislature. The regular session starts January 11, 2012.

"The issue of getting (Marcellus Shale) rules on the book is too important to get lost with other topics during the regular session, and to be placed on the back burner," Tomblin said. "It's important to West Virginia."

Clck to read the article.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Governor Attempting To Find Compromise On Marcellus Bill For December Special Session

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is working to hold a special session in mid December to take up “consensus” legislation that will provide a new regulatory framework for horizontal drilling and production activities in West Virginia. The Governor is talking with legislators and the state's natural gas industry in an effort to craft a compromise on a bill that was developed by a 10-member legislative study group. That group's bill (click to read), which was approved last month, contains provisions and requirements that are objectionable to the state's natural gas industry. The governor has stated repeatedly that he will call a special session on this issue only after consensus has been reached.

Natural gas leaders object to a number of requirements contained within the study group's proposed bill:
- detailed casing and completion technical requirements, which many say should be done by regulations and not codified;
- added surface owner and public notice requirements that could significantly extend permitting time period;
- new buffer zone/set-back provisions that don't offer any flexibility and, thereby, may sterilize drilling locations and hinder production opportunities; and
- hiring and wage reporting requirements that are not imposed on other industries in the state.

Lewis Glasser is closely monitoring the situation. Please call Nick Casey if you have any questions or to get more information.

News Articles:

Tinkering may doom Marcellus legislation
The Register Herald, December 2, 2011

Gov. Tomblin wants to 'tweak' Marcellus bill
The Charleston Gazette, Nov. 30, 2011

Governor hopes for Marcellus shale special session
Charleston Daily Mail, Nov. 30, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Proposed Marcellus Bill To Be Reviewed By Governor's Office; Consensus Still Uncertain

A special study committee of the West Virginia Legislature has completed its drafting of proposed Marcellus regulatory legislation, and the committee's bill is now undergoing review by Governor Tomblin and his top aides. The study group spent the past several months crafting their regulatory provisions, which will impose higher drilling permit fees and more regulations on horizontal drilling and production. Provided is a link to the study group's final proposed bill - click to read.

Both state natural gas trade groups and horizontal producers have expressed concerns about the added costs and a number of the new regulations contained in the bill.

Governor Tomblin's Chief of Staff told the Associated Press last week that the administration will review the committee's recommendations. He noted, however, that the study group's bill needs work in order to reach added consensus.

"There are a handful of, some issues that we think we can work out," Chief of Staff Rob Alsop said. "There's no doubt that the committee made progress, but there are significant issues we want to work through."

Click to read the AP article.

Some lawmakers are calling on the Governor to take up the bill in a special session prior to the start of the 2012 regular legislative session, which starts January 11, 2012. The Governor has stated he will consider the legislation only after there is general agreement for its many provisions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marcellus Issues Discussed As Part Of State, Federal Hearings In Charleston

Issues related to Marcellus drilling and production were discussed at two events yesterday in Charleston. Provided are news articles and editorials:

Delegate: Hire More W.Va. Workers in Natural Gas Industry - http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/561773/Delegate--Hire-More-W-Va--Workers.html?nav=515

EPA ‘Confident’ of State’s Ability to Regulate Drilling - http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/561774/EPA--Confident--of-State-s-Ability-to-Regulate-Drilling.html?nav=515

Legislative Committee To Vote On Marcellus Bill This Week - http://www.wvmetronews.com/news.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=49210

Commentary: Getting closer on Marcellus Shale - http://www.wvmetronews.com/hoppy.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=49217

Marcellus revisions approved; select committee to vote on measure Wednesday - http://www.register-herald.com/todaysfrontpage/x899732388/Marcellus-revisions-approved

Editorial: Leadership on Marcellus Shale question - http://www.wvgazette.com/Opinion/Editorials/201111140101

Editorial: State’s overall interest should prevail in regulating Marcellus: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/opinions/x523377425/States-overall-interest-should-prevail-in-regulating-Marcellus

Warning sounded on regulating Marcellus drilling - http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201111140062

W.Va. Legislature's special study panel adds final Marcellus amendments - http://www.dailymail.com/News/201111140119

Special Marcellus legislative study co-chair says he might ask feds for Marcellus help - http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201111140062

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Governor Restates Pledge For Permanent Rules, Certainty For State's Natural Gas Industry; Consensus Lacking Among Lawmakers

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin used his inaugural address this afternoon to reinforce his pledge to bring certainty to the state's natural gas industry. Tomblin told the audience on the steps of the state Capitol that "working with members of the Legislature, we will put permanent rules in place to provide certainty to the natural gas industry, while also protecting landowners and our environment." He also noted that this certainty will help aid the state's manufacturing sector, which is projected to be "rejuvenated by taking advantage of natural gas byproducts."

Tomblin, serving as Acting Governor for the past year, has called for balanced regulations. He also has been aggressively working to get an ethane cracker located in the state. "I look forward to, not just one, but hopefully two multi-billion-dollar [cracker] investments, so our children can stay home, secure good paying jobs and raise their families' right here in West Virginia," he said.

Click to read the entire inaugural address.

Uncertainty exists in West Virginia due to an ongoing effort by lawmakers to develop added regulations and fees on the state's horizontal producer community. A special legislative study group's proposed regulations have raised concerns and strong objections from horizontal producers and the state's two natural gas trade groups. The study group is nearing the end of its effort, but consensus seems ellusive even among lawmakers. According to a new Associated Press story, "the main players involved in the months-long quest for compromise appear as divided as ever." Click to read the article.

Friday, November 11, 2011

West Virginia Supreme Court Clarifies Rights Of Royalty Owners

On October 11th, by Memorandum Decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of a Summary Judgment Order by the Circuit Court of Doddridge County in Gassaway v. Dominion Exploration and Production, Inc., upholding the Circuit Court’s determination as a matter of law that a party who had been mistakenly receiving royalty payments had not established title to the oil and gas estate by adverse possession.

In Gassaway the petitioner’s parents had entered into the chain of title of the surface and a portion of the oil and gas estate underlying a 192-acre tract in Doddridge County in 1957. In 1965 the petitioner’s parents lost their interest in the property as a result of a foreclosure. The petitioner’s parents ended up with title to a smaller 10 acre parcel that was a part of the same original tract as the 192 acre parcel but they, and later the petitioner herself, continued to receive royalty payments from the respondent, or its predecessors in interest for oil and gas production underlying the entire 192 acre tract. In 2007, the respondent, as a result of completing title on the 192 acre tract prior to drilling another well on the property, determined that the petitioner had been inappropriately receiving royalty payments. The producer ceased royalty payments to petitioner and began paying royalties to the parties that respondent had determined were properly vested with title.

In the litigation that followed, the petitioner asserted a number of claims, with her claim for title based on adverse possession being central to the importance of this Memorandum Decision. The respondent argued, and the Supreme Court of Appeals agreed, that the Circuit Court correctly found that the petitioner’s claim of adverse possession failed as a matter of law. Specifically the Court’s Memorandum Decision held that collecting a royalty payment does not constitute “actual, hostile possession of oil and gas, and that royalty payments are personal property to which adverse possession does not apply.” (Gassaway v. Dominion Exploration and Production, Inc., No. 11-0535 at 4 (W.Va. 2011)).

LGCR has extensive experience defending producers in all manner of royalty payment actions in West Virginia, and Richard Gottlieb is available by phone ((304) 345 2000) or email (rgottlieb@lgcr.com) to answer questions in this area.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

U.S. Senate Committee Field Hearing On Marcellus Shale Set For November 14 In Charleston

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 14 in the 7th Floor Courtroom of the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston, W.Va. The hearing will address the issue of Marcellus Shale and will be chaired by U.S. Senator Manchin, who will be conducting his first field hearing in the Senate.

The Energy Committee hearing on the 14th will allow witnesses from the Federal and State government, as well as local stakeholders, to testify to the potential of our nation’s shale gas reserves, and the important economic and safety issues that must be addressed if these resources are to be developed responsibly. Provided is a link to the list of witnesses.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Marcellus Legislative Study Group To Consider Final Amendments On Sunday

Members of the Legislature's special Marcellus study group are scheduled to convene on Sunday to consider four final amendments. The group has been working for the past several months to develop a regulatory bill for horizontal drilling and production activities in West Virginia. Many of the provisions of the proposed bill are ones that will add new burdensome requirements and costs on horizontal producers. One pending amendment that will be considered during Sunday's meeting involves giving added rights to surface owners. Click to read more in this story in The Register-Herald.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pennsylvania Research Study Finds Marcellus Activities Having Little Impact On Water Sources

A new study by Penn State researchers finds that Marcellus drilling and production activities are having little impact on rural water supplies. The study, The Impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water Supplies, was recently released by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The center’s research findings note that “statistical analyses of post-drilling versus pre-drilling water chemistry did not suggest major influenc¬es from gas well drilling or hydrofracturing (fracking) on nearby water wells, when considering changes in potential pollutants that are most prominent in drilling waste fluids.”

The research looked “to provide an unbiased and large-scale study of water quality in private water wells in rural Pennsylvania before and after the drilling of nearby Marcellus Shale gas wells.” The study also looked to document both the enforcement of existing regulations and the use of voluntary measures by homeowners to protect water supplies.

As part of the study, the researchers evaluated water sampled from 233 water wells in proximity to Marcellus gas wells in rural regions of Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011. Among these were treatment sites (water wells sampled before and after gas well drilling nearby) and control sites (water wells sampled though no well drilling occurred nearby).

Click to read the study's report.

Surface Use Amendments To Be Considered During Next Meeting Of Marcellus Study Group

The co-chair of the Legislature's special Marcellus regulation study group is hoping to hold another meeting next week. Delegate Tim Manchin said he expects the group to take up four remaining amendments during this meeting. Two of the amendments deal with surface use/owner issues. According to an article in today's The Register-Herald, Manchin said the amendments would induce operators work out issues (well location, impoundments, roads, etc.) with surface owners:

Manchin said property owners have long sought a mandatory sit-down with operators to spell out just where they intended to set up well sites, impoundments and roads, and secondly, to negotiate terms of compensation. “That’s never been mandatory,” the delegate said.

“There are some states where it is mandatory. In our first proposed amendment, we made it mandatory. The amendment under consideration does not make it mandatory. It attempts to induce the operators to do so through the use of attorneys’ fees being awarded in a subsequent disagreement over compensation.”

If a surface owner prevailed in litigation, Manchin explained, under normal circumstances, they receive the fees. “If the operator had attempted to utilize the surface owner agreement process, even if it wasn’t successful, as long as they give them notice, provided them a copy of the code section dealing with compensation, gave them some other information in that part of the process — even if they didn’t reach agreement on where it should be located, or the compensation — then, in order to get attorneys’ fees, the surface owner would have to prevail by more than 15 percent,” he said. “In other words, they would have to get 115 percent of whatever the last best offer was by the industry.”

The amendment also requires the surface owner to provide a 30-day notice of intent to sue so the industry isn’t ambushed, allowing time to make a best offer before being taken into court.

Click to read the entire article.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Prospects Unlikely For Marcellus Special Session In November

Legislators developing a proposed Marcellus regulatory bill still are attempting to reach consensus on a number of key issues, including a new permit fee on horizontal drilling. As a result, the outlook for a special session in November seems to be fading.

Members of the special Marcellus legislative study committee had hoped to complete their work in time so a special session could be called in November...possibly as part of the November interim meetings (Nov. 13-15). However, during the November interims the special committee is expected to continue work on its proposed bill. And, any final proposal will need to be provided to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for his consideration. The governor has stated he won't call a special session until an agreed bill is ready, and there must be consensus on key provisions.

Industry groups and horizontal producers have expressed concerns about a number of new provisions that have been adopted in the past couple of months by the special committee. LGCR is closely monitoring the deliberations.

Click to read related news commentary in the October 23 edition of The Herald-Dispatch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Special Marcellus Legislative Committee Continues Work On Proposed Regulatory Bill

Members of the Legislature's special Marcellus study committee are meeting this week in Charleston, and the committee continues to make modifications to a proposed bill. This week the committee changed the buffer zone distance requirements involved with drilling. The committee also may reconsider a proposed $10,000 drilling permit fee...and change this to be $5,000.

The joint committee has been examining a wide range of regulatory issues related to Marcellus Shale drilling and production.

Click to read news articles:

Marcellus Shale Committee Approves Well Setback Standards
The State Journal, October 13, 2011

Legislative panel cuts buffer for Marcellus drilling
The Register-Herald, Oct. 13, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recent Pennsylvania Intermediate Court Decision Not Cause For Panic In West Virginia

On September 7, 2011 the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion, reversing and remanding a decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County Pennsylvania, styled Butler v. Charles Powers Estate et al. 2011 PA Super 198, which has caused consternation throughout the Marcellus Shale development community. In Butler, the Superior Court in Pennsylvania indicated that it was willing to entertain an argument that gas trapped within the Marcellus Shale formation was similar, for title purposes, to coal bed methane.

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia and a number of other jurisdictions with both coal and gas resources under development, courts have applied different rules of construction to the conveyance of coal bed methane, and the right to develop the same, than to so-called ‘conventional gas.’ As a result, the willingness of the Pennsylvania Superior Court to consider an alternate treatment for title to the gas trapped within the Marcellus Shale formation has sent developers scrambling.

West Virginia’s existing precedent on the key element of the Butler analysis is distinguishable and, in conjunction with the preliminary nature of the Butler decision, does not justify a panic among developers of the natural gas trapped within the shale in West Virginia.

Click to read an analysis prepared by Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Earl Ray Tomblin Elected West Virginia's Governor

Earl Ray Tomblin, who has been serving as Acting Governor in West Virginia, was elected the 35th Governor last evening following a special gubernatorial election. Tomblin will continue to serve as the state's chief executive and complete the remainder of the term formerly held by Joe Manchin. That term will run until Janaury 2013. Governor Tomblin now will need to run for a full four-year term during the upcoming 2012 election cycle.

Tomblin has been a strong supporter of the state's natural gas industry, and his administration is working energetically to get an ethane cracker located in the state. Tomblin also has been working to provide balance to calls for added regulations and fees on the state's shale production industry.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ethane Cracker Location In West Virginia Still Promising

Three chemical companies are eyeing seven possible sites in West Virginia for a multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker plant, according to the state Commerce Secretary. Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette is quoted in an article in today's Charleston Daily Mail that he thinks the companies will narrow down the list of sites in the very near future. West Virginia officials are working closely with the companies to help land one or more of the possible ethane cracker facilities. In another news article, the CEO of Bayer Corp. said he still hopes the company's two sites in West Virginia may be selected for the cracker plant.

Officials To Narrow Cracker Site List
Charleston Daily Mail, Sept. 26, 2011

Shale’s Future Strong; Bayer Chief Still Hopeful for Plant
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register, Sept. 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

ACC Study: New Cracker Facility Will Yield 12,000 Jobs

A study by the American Chemistry Council finds that as many as 12,000 jobs may result from the location of a new ethane cracker facility. ACC's study found that a new petrochemical plant in the Marcellus region would generate $7.5 billion in chemical industry output, 12,000 jobs in chemistry and supplier industries, $1 billion in state wages and $169 million in state tax revenue. West Virginia's government leaders are working closely to get a cracker faciility located in the state.

"Access to vast, new supplies of natural gas from previously untapped shale deposits is one of the most exciting domestic energy developments of the past 50 years," the report states. "After years of high, volatile natural gas prices, the new economics of shale gas are a 'game changer,' creating a competitive advantage for U.S. petrochemical manufacturers, leading to greater U.S. investment and industry growth."

ACC’s national report also showcases the benefits of shale gas for the domestic chemistry industry and the broader U.S. manufacturing sector. It found that reasonable increases in shale gas production in the U.S. could result in nearly 400,000 new jobs in the chemical sector and supplier industries, more than $132 billion in U.S. economic output and nearly $4.4 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue annually, Dooley said.

Click to read the council's study.

Click to read news story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ehtane Cracker Would Usher In 'Golden Age' For State's Chemical Industry

The President and CEO of the American Chemical Council said Marcellus Shale stands to usher in "a golden age in chemical manufacturing," and West Virginia stands to be a key winner. "We're poised to have a new golden age in chemical manufacturing in the United States if we have the right regulatory policies that allow us to maximize production of shale gas and the conversion of that gas into other products," said Cal Dooley in an article in today's Charleseton Daily Mail. West Virginia stands to be gain significantly because it "is fairly uniquely positioned in terms of population centers, infrastructure and pipelines," he added.

Dooley noted that a $1.5 billion to $2 billion cracker facility would result in:
- about $3.2 billion would be invested in the downstream chemical facilities,
- generate $7 billion in additional chemical industry output in West Virginia, and
- create 12,000 jobs the state's chemical industry and throughout the supply chain.

This also would result in West Virginia moving up from being the 23rd largest chemical-producing state to being the 13th largest, Dooley added.

Click to read the entire article.

Possibility Increasing For Marcellus Special Session In November

With a special committee looking more likely to complete work in October on a Marcellus Shale regulatory bill, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he would consider calling a special session in November. Talking with editors at The Register-Herald, Tomblin said "I do want to encourage them to go ahead and get some sort of agreement out here, so we can get the law on the books...If they can get it done in October, that (November) would be the appropriate time, I think.” Click to read the entire article.

However, horizontal producers have begun to express concerns about some amendments that were adopted recently by the committee. These amendments include establishing a higher drilling permit fee on horizontal wells, new public notice requirements and a new $2,500 payment to surface owners.

Lewis Glasser is closely monitoring the activities of the Legislature's special joint Marcellus study committee.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marcellus Legislative Study Committee Approving Amendments, Drilling Permit Fee Increase

Lawmakers serving on a special joint committee to review regulations on Marcellus drilling activities have approved a significant increase in the state's drilling permit fee. Meeting this week as part of monthly legislative interim meetings, the committee adopted several amendments...including changing the state's horizontal drilling permit fee to be $10,000 for each well. The fee would be $5,000 for each additional well drilled at the site. The fee change is part of a legislative regulatory reform bill that is being developed by the special committee. The co-chair of the committee, Delegate Tim Manchin, said he expects the committee to complete its work in October, and have a final proposed bill ready by early November.

Click to read articles:

W.Va. Marcellus committee clears permit fee hurdle
Charleston Daily Mail, Sept. 14, 2011

Marcellus Bill May Ready for Special Session in November
The State Journal, Sept. 14, 2011

$10,000 Drilling Fees Sought
Industry opposes increase from $650 per Marcellus well

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, Sept. 15, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Special Marcellus Committee Continues Work On Proposed Marcellus Regulatory Bill

State lawmakers continue to modify draft legislation that is aimed at expanding regulatory requirements on West Virginia's Marcellus Shale natural gas industry. The latest amendments approved Monday by the special House-Senate committee would change the way the DEP hires inspectors and expand public notice and comment processes that involve drilling operations. The committee will meet again tomorrow, September 14. Click to read more.

Monday, August 29, 2011

West Virginia's Emergency Marcellus Rule Approved, In Effect

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant today approved the filing of a Department of Environmental Protection emergency rule temporarily regulating Marcellus shale natural gas extraction. Under West Virginia code, Tennant could have taken up to 42 days to approve or deny the filing. However, "Tennant signed the emergency rule less than a week after it was filed with her office, believing there could be no further delay in specific regulation or delay in the opportunity to responsibly develop the industry and improve West Virginia’s economy," according to a statement on the Secretary of State's web site.

Click to read Secretary Tennant's statement.

Click to read the approved emergency rule.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Office Of Oil & Gas Submits Emergency Rules Covering Horizontal Drilling Regulations

The W.Va. DEP’s Office of Oil & Gas has finalized and submitted its emergency rules to the W.Va. Secretary of State’s Office. The rules were developed as part of an Executive Order issued on July 12 by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. The rules, which outline new regulatory guidelines and procedures for horizontal drilling activities in West Virginia, become effective after approval by the Secretary of State or the 42nd day after filing, whichever occurs first.

Click to see emergency rules.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marcellus Shale Bill Likely Won't Be Completed This Year

The two co-chairs of the state Legislature's Marcellus Shale study committee have differing viewpoints on the pace with which they will work on possible regulatory legislation. The Senate's Chair, Senator Doug Facemire, reportedly is wanting to go more slowly than his House counterpart on the development of a Marcellus legislative proposal. As a result, it appears the matter will await full legislative consideration until the 2012 regular session of the W.Va. Legislature. Some lawmakers had hoped that the issue would be dealt with this year during a special session. However, lawmakers are scheduled to complete work on a redistricting bill during this week's special session, and another special session in 2011 appears unlikely.

Click to read more.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Circuit Court Judge Invalidates Morgantown's Ban On Natural Gas Drilling, Hydraulic Fracturing

A Monongalia Circuit Court Judge has issued a ruling that invalidates Morgantown's new ordinance that would have banned natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The judge ruled that regulation of natural gas development and drilling lies soley with the state Department of Environmental Protection, not with a city such as Morgantown.

"Based upon this analysis, this Court concludes that the State's interest in oil and gas development and production throughout the State as set forth in the W,VA. CODE § 22-6. et seq.(1994)., provides for the exclusive control of this area of law to be within the hands of the WVDEP. These regulations do not provide any exception or latitude to permit the City of Morgantown to impose a complete ban on frackinng or to regulate oil and gas development and production."

Click to read the order.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Onerous Amendments Being Offered To Proposed Marcellus Regulatory Bill

The Legislature's special Marcellus study group met last week to continue its examination and deliberations on a proposed regulatory bill. The committee is using S.B. 424 as the starting point for its work (click to read a detailed abstract of the proposed draft of the bill -- which has been prepared by legislative staff counsel).

The committee also has begun to consider a number of amendments to S.B. 424, and among these are ones that would (if adopted):
1) provide for the suspension of a drilling permit by the state Department of Transportation;
2) authorize the Legislature to study issues involving pit safety and impoundments, radioactive materials and toxins and possible tougher regulations;
3) add regulations and inspections of well site air emissions by the state Office of Air Quality; and
4) impose a new reporting requirement on horizontal drillers who would have to provide certain employee information to the state Division of Labor.

Provided is a link to these proposed amendments: click to read.

The next meeting of the Marcellus legislative study group is expected to be held during the September legislative interim meetings, which are scheduled for September 11-13 in Charleston. Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins will continue to monitor the special legislative group's deliberations.

Pro-Marcellus Citizens Getting Cities To Rescind Drilling Bans

Citizens supportive of the growing Marcellus opportunities in West Virginia are speaking out in opposition to local bans against natural gas drilling. City councils in two Northern Panhandle towns are rescinding bans that were recently put in place. Those cities are Wellsburg and New Martinsville. Click to read stories:

Wellsburg Lifts Gas Drilling Ban
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, Aug. 10, 2011

Industry pushes back on W.Va. city drilling bans
Associated Press, August 8, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

DEP Seeking Drilling Fee Hike To Generate $2M For Nine New Inspectors

The state Department of Environmental Protection wants to increase drilling permit fees to generate $2 million to help fund nine new oil and natural gas inspectors positions. That is what was shared with lawmakers last week during a meeting of the Legislature's special Marcellus study group. If the state were to establish a $5,000 permit fee, then that would generate the needed $2 million in revenue, according to statements made by the DEP's general counsel.

Read more: MetroNews, August 8, 2011

Chemical Industry Touts Widespread Benefits From Shale Gas Production

Editorial: The Marcellus shale has huge potential
West Virginians would welcomea renewed chemical industry


This is a reprint of an editorial that was published in the August 8, 2011 edition of the Charleston Daily Mail.

Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, recently laid out in a letter to the Wall Street Journal the impact that shale gas could have on the U.S. chemical industry. In a word, huge.

Production from the Marcellus shale already has turned a $100 million deficit in the U.S. balance of trade for chemicals to a $3.7 billion surplus last year. "Plastic exports alone were up 10 percent last year," he said. "Industry leaders such as Dow Chemical and Eastman Chemical have re-started plants idled by the recession. Other companies are expected to announce expansion plans in the U.S."

The council's March study of shale gas potential found that a theoretical but realistic 25 percent increase in U.S. ethane supply would bring:
* 17,000 new knowledge-intensive, high-paying jobs in the U.S. chemical industry.
* 395,000 jobs in related industries, and 230,000 jobs from new capital investment by the chemical industry.
* $4.4 billion more in federal, state, and local tax revenue, annually ($43.9 billion over 10 years).
* A $32.8 billion increase in U.S. chemical production.
* $16.2 billion in capital investment by the chemical industry to build new petrochemical and derivatives capacity.
* $132.4 billion in U.S. economic output - $83.4 billion related to increased chemical production, including additional supplier and induced impacts, plus $49 billion related to capital investment by the U.S. chemical industry).

The executive summary of the council's study notes that the scenario outlined in the report is corroborated by trends in the chemical industry. "Member companies, including the Dow Chemical Company, Shell Chemical, LyondellBasell, Bayer MaterianScience and others have announced new investments in U.S. petrochemical capacity..."

"Some of these investments are bring made in areas of the country that have been hardest hit by declines in manufacturing, improving the outlook in economically depressed areas of the country."

If that sounds like West Virginia, that's because it is. Dominion Energy announced Friday that it will build a half-billion-dollar natural gas processing plant adjacent to PPG's Natrium plant in Marshall County. It will process "wet" gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales and ship products via barge, rail, truck and pipe. The company has already converted an existing pipeline to handle the gas.

West Virginians know the value of the chemical industry, now a shadow of its former economic self. State, county and city officials should make sure development-friendly policies are in place. The industry has an almost unbelievable chance to recover.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Marcellus Legislative Study Group Beginning To Draft Proposed Regulatory Bill

The special joint Marcellus legislative study group has started its work on developing a proposed bill on regulatory changes. The committee’s ten members have been holding meetings during this week’s special session of the Legislature. The committee is using S.B. 424 as the starting point for its work (click to read a detailed abstract of the proposed draft of the bill -- which has been prepared by legislative staff counsel). The committee’s next meeting is set for 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Capitol, and a number of amendments are expected to be offered and considered. LGCR Government Solutions is closely monitoring the special committee’s activities.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marcellus Moratorium Drilling Calls Continue; Legislators Hope To Have Work On Regulatory Bill By August

Calls for imposing a drilling moratorium on Marcellus Shale wells continued last evening at a public meeting held in Morgantown. The meeting was the second of a series that are being organized by the House members of the Legislature's special Marcellus Shale study group. According to media reports, the meeting attracted 300 people, and 60 people provided comments -- both supportive of drilling and against.

Click to read articles:
- Associated Press
- The Dominion Post

Also, Delegate Tim Manchin, the House co-chair of the legislative study group, told MetroNews that it will be a challenge to have a Marcellus regulatory bill ready by early September. Delegate Manchin added, however, that he thinks the committee "will have some real substantive work on a bill" by the August legislative interim meetings in Charleston. Those meeting are set for August 1-3. Click to read MetroNews article.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Former WVU Professor Works To Explain Why Fracking Is Good

A respected former engineering professor at WVU is sharing his views on the benefits of hydraulic fracking in an effort to separate "hysteria" from reality. L. Zane Shuck, a professional engineer and former professor at WVU and WVU Tech, wrote an op-ed on this topic that was published July 23 in The Charleston Gazette. Shuck is an international expert on hydraulic fracturing, holds 12 U.S. patents on energy recovery processes and founded the national Appalachian Rivers Conference and Exhibit to apply advanced technology to protect streams, rivers and their ecosystems.

"Various groups of people who have no technical education or experience in these fields are misleading the public and our elected officials. As professional scientists and engineers, we have certain obligations and responsibilities to correctly inform the public and its governing bodies of inaccurate and misleading information," he wrote.

Professor Shuck adds in his op-ed that "hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology in conjunction with the Marcellus shale gas is a godsend we should cherish, protect and celebrate."

Click to read his entire op-ed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Legislators Schedule Public Meetings On Marcellus Issue

A series of public meetings has been scheduled by the House members of the Legislature's Joint Select Committee on Marcellus Shale. The 10-member group was formed recently to develop recommendations on regulations related to Marcellus activities. The public meetings, which will begin tomorrow (July 21) in Wheeling, have become a source of concern to the state's natural gas industry. In an email alert to members, IOGA of W.Va. is calling on members to attend the meetings and to share viewpoints about the importance of Marcellus development:

"Some of the more radical House members of this committee have decided to hold Public Hearings over the next week to discuss Marcellus drilling. Unfortunately, these hearings are shaping up to be a forum for environmentalists and drilling opponents to dominate the meetings and subsequent media attention with anti-industry rhetoric.

"We need your help in putting on a show of force of industry workers, businesses, and those who depend on natural gas development. Please attend one or more of these hearings and let the Delegates know that you support development of the Marcellus shale and all of West Virginia’s oil & gas resources."

The schedule for the public meetings is as follows:

July 21 (Thursday)
Wheeling - Northern Community College
7:30 p.m.

July 25 (Monday)
Morgantown - WVU College of Law
7:30 p.m.

July 27 (Wednesday)
Clarksburg - location and time to be determined

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Governor Tomblin Issues Executive Order, Rules Governing Marcellus Drilling, Fracking Activities

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin held a press conference this afternoon in Charleston to lay out new rules and procedures for Marcellus Shale activities in West Virginia. Provided is the official statement issued this afternoon from Governor Tomblin's office:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, joined by West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman, Legislators, and natural gas industry representatives today announced the filing of an executive order (click to read) that directs the DEP to promulgate additional environmental regulations governing Marcellus Shale drilling activities.

"This executive order is the first step in my long-term plan to ensure responsible development of Marcellus Shale," Gov. Tomblin said. "The good-paying jobs predicted with this development must include the protection of our public's health and safety as well as that of our environment. I want to thank our citizens who have voiced their concerns about Marcellus Shale drilling and want to assure them that I recognize this emerging segment of the natural gas industry warrants my immediate attention to ensure responsible development."

By directing Secretary Huffman to use his existing emergency rule making authority, Gov. Tomblin is calling for additional regulations concerning: water withdrawals, stream and groundwater protection, and public notice.

Executive Order 4-11 outlines several requirements of natural gas companies including but not limited to:
• Marcellus Shale drilling applicants seeking to drill within the boundaries of a municipality must file a public notice of intent to drill.
• Surface land use that will disturb 3 or more acres must be certified by and constructed in accordance with plans certified by a registered professional engineer.
• Companies withdrawing over 210,000 gallons of water a month must file a water management plan with the DEP and adhere to certain specified standards.
o Before fracking begins, such companies must also provide a list of additives that will be used in the frack fluid, and after fracking is complete, the additives actually used.
• When using water from a public stream, a company must identify the designated and existing uses of that stream.

"I am pleased that the natural gas industry supports my decision to pursue reasonable environmental regulations to ensure responsible development of the Marcellus Shale," Gov. Tomblin said. "Regulatory certainty is important not only to the industry, but also to our great citizens."

The executive order also instructs the DEP to further review the agency's overall authority over drilling activities related to horizontal wells.

Articles:

Charleston Daily Mail

Associated Press

Monday, July 11, 2011

Governor Tomblin Sets Press Conference Regarding Marcellus Regulations

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will hold a press conference at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, 2011 in the Governor's Reception Room to discuss Marcellus Shale regulation. He will be joined by Legislators and leaders from the natural gas industry.

The governor's press conference will come just a few hours before the first meeting of the W.Va. Legislature's special Marcellus legislative study group. That meeting is set for July 12 at 6 p.m. in Charleston. The meeting will be held at the State Capitol in the Senate Judiciary Committee Room. The study group includes 10 legislators -- five from each house of the Legislature. The July meeting agenda will include the following presentations:
• Horizontal Drilling & Hydraulic Fracturing Technology, Sam Ameri, Professor & Chair, Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering Department, WVU
• Environmental Issues - Don Garvin, W.Va. Environmental Council
• Potential Impact on State Economy - Department of Commerce Representative
• Projected Impact on State and Local Tax Revenues, Mark Muchow, W.Va. Deputy Tax Commissioner
• Morgantown Marcellus Ordinance - Ron Bane, Deputy Mayor & Council Member; Bill Byrne, Council Member
• Surface Owner Issues - Dave McMahon, W.Va. Surface Owners’ Rights Organization

LGCR Government Solutions will monitor the press conference and the legislative study group’s meetings.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marcellus Shale Legislative, Court Actions Heating Up In West Virginia

With state lawmakers planning to sit down this week to examine possible legislation related to Marcellus drilling regulations and fees, others are calling for an outright moratorium or legal actions in the courts. The Legislature's special Marcellus study group is scheduled to begin holding deliberations July 12 and then again on July 13 at the Capitol. It was reported today that the group's Senate Co-Chair, Senator Doug Facemire, wants to use the Senate's bill (SB 424) as a framework for meetings. The newspaper article, however, said the new version will be a scaled-back bill than the one that passed the state Senate during the 2011 regular session. Facemire said he wants this verison still to address issues such as notification to landowners, illegal dumping of fracking water and damage to state roads.

It also was reported today that the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization plans to "broaden its tactics" and seek desired remedies in the court system, rather than the Legislature. The group's attorney, David McMahon, already has filed one lawsuit in Marion County seeking to stop XTO from locating a drilling pad on his surface property.

In another article, other legislators are calling for added requirements on the state's natural gas industry, such as mandatory reporting of fracking fluids and new requirements on the reporting of natural gas production...on a property-by-property basis.

Read articles:
Surface owners plan to turn to courts over Marcellus drilling
The Charleston Gazette, July 9, 2011

Monitoring info sought by legislators
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, July 9, 2011

Property, mineral rights in conflict
Charleston Daily Mail, July 5, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

First Meeting Of Marcellus Legislative Study Group Set For July 12 In Charleston

The first meeting of the W.Va. Legislature's special Marcellus legislative study group is set for July 12 at 6 p.m. in Charleston. The meeting will be held at the State Capitol in the Senate Judiciary Committee Room. The study group includes 10 legislators -- five from each house of the Legislature.

W.Va. Senate Members:

Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, Co-Chair
Karen Facemeyer R-Jackson
Corey Palumbo D-Kanawha
Herb Snyder D-Jefferson
Orphy Klempa D-Ohio

W.Va. House Members:

Tim Manchin, D-Marion, Co-Chair
Barbara Fleischauer D-Monongalia
Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier
Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie
Bill Anderson, R-Wood

To coincide with this, members of a new group called "West Virginia for a Moratorium on Marcellus" is organizing a rally on July 11. The rally is designed "to demonstrate support for a moratorium on Marcellus shale drilling and fracking." The vent will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the State Capitol Building.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wall Street Journal Aims To Separate Truth From Fiction Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing

The Wall Street Journal has published an article in an effort "to separate truth from fiction in the main allegations against the shale revolution" - hydraulic fracturing. The article also notes that the industry "will have to take great drilling care while better making its public case. In this age of saturation media, a single serious example of water contamination could lead to a political panic that would jeopardize tens of billions of dollars of investment. The industry needs to establish best practices and blow the whistle on drillers that dodge the rules."

Click to read the entire article.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morgantown's City Council Follows Through To Ban Horizontal Drilling, Fracturing; Lawsuits Planned

Morgantown's City Council voted 6-1 to ban horizontal drilling within city limits or one mile around city. The controversial action has been denounced by the state's natural gas industry. Mineral owners and producers indicate they will seek legal action against the city.

Click to read article:
"City Marcellus Drilling Ban Officially In Place"

"Gas Company Hires Lawyer To Sue Morgantown Over Ban"

DEP Laying Out Parameters Of Revised Marcellus Regulatory, Permit Fee Bill

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is reworking its Marcellus regulatory bill in advance of expected legislative action. The agency is redrafting a legislative proposal it developed as part of the 2011 regular legislative session. That proposal did not get enacted. Unlike the first proposal developed by DEP, this new version will mainly on environmental regulations…and not include provisions such as statutory pooling, which is desired by many large Marcellus producers. Provisions related to surface owner rights also will be left out of this new version, according to the DEP’s spokesperson. DEP’s Secretary Randy Huffman says he will be seeking higher permit fees in order to finance the higher of 8-10 additional oil/natural gas inspectors.

Click to read related articles:

The Associated Press

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

House Speaker Names Members To Joint Legislative Marcellus Study Group

House Speaker Rick Thompson has appointed five members of the W.Va. House of Delegates to serve on the Legislature’s Select Committee on Marcellus Shale. Thompson designated Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, as the chairman. Other members of the committee will include: Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia; Delegate Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier; Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie; and Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood.

The state Senate's members were named June 18.

The joint Senate-House working group will seek to develop consensus legislation on regulations and permit fees for Marcellus Shale drilling and production.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Morgantown's Proposed Law To Ban Natural Gas Drilling, Fracturing Is An Assault Against Private Property Rights

Morgantown City Council's plan to ban natural gas drilling within its city limits is an "assault on West Virginia's private property rights." That is the view of Mark Sadd, one of the preeminent land use and zoning attorneys in West Virginia and a member of Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins' natural gas practice. Sadd wrote an op-ed column that was published in the June 19 edition of The Dominion Post. His op-ed was prepared in response to the city council's proposed ordinance against natural gas drilling and fracturing. Council is scheduled to vote on that ordinance this evening, June 21.

Click to read Sadd's op-ed column.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

State Senators Named For Marcellus Legislative Study Group

Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler has named the five state Senate members to the special Marcellus legislative study group, which was named this week. The Senate members are:

Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio
Douglas Facemire, D-Braxton
Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha
Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson
Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson

The House of Delegates will name five members.

Senator Kessler said he anticipates the committee working quickly to develop a consensus bill regarding Marcellus regulations and drilling fees.

Click to read articles:

The Register-Herald

Wheeling Intelligencer/New Register

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Legislators Hear Proposal To Hike Severance Taxes, Create Permanent Fund

A liberal think tank in West Virginia is proposing that state lawmakers should increase severance taxes by $100 million year. The proposal, which was put forth to lawmakers during an interim committee meeting this week, was advanced by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. The center is calling for a 1 percentage point increase in the state’s severance tax on the extraction and production of coal, oil and natural gas. That would raise $100 million in its first year, and the money would be directed into a "Severance Tax Permanent Fund". The group projected that this fund could grow over 25 years to become several billions of dollars, may be used to pay off the state’s long-term pension debt obligations.

Click to read more.

Governor Tomblin: Hoping For Agreement On Marcellus Regulatory Bill

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is quoted in today's The Register-Herald as saying he hopes a compromise on Marcellus regulations could be completed in the coming weeks. It was announced this week that the Legislature is forming a special legislative study group to focus on the issue of Marcellus regulations. If the group comes to consensus, Tomblin reiterated his stand that he would be add an "agreed to" Marcellus proposal as part of the agenda of a planned special session this summer.

According to the newspaper's June 16 edition:

“We’re hoping to be able to get the two sides together to talk about the rules and regulations of Marcellus drilling,” Tomblin said. “I’m hoping they can come to some sort of agreement in the next few weeks here.”

Tomblin plans to huddle with Thompson and Kessler again in July to gauge the task force’s progress.

“If they’re close enough where we feel we can get in, get the bill passed and get out, then I’ll consider putting it on at that time,” the governor said.

Click to read the entire article.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Special Legislative Group To Study Marcellus Issues

A special legislative group will be formed to study issues related to Marcellus drilling. The decision to form the group was made by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The study group will comprise five members of the W.Va. House of Delegates and five members of the W.Va. Senate. Appointment of members to be made by Speaker and Acting Senate President. Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins, and its GR affiliate -- LGCR Government Solutions, will provide additional details as they become available.

Click to read article by the Associated Press.

Upcoming Oil And Natural Gas Events In West Virginia

Provided is a list of upcoming oil and natural gas events in West Virginia:

WVONGA Spring Meeting
May 4-5, 2011
Stonewall Resort, Roanoke, WV

4th Annual West Virginia Oil & Gas Equipment Show
July 13-14, 2011
West Virginia Wesleyan College Campus
Buckhannon, WV

IOGAWV Summer Meeting
August 7-9, 2011 -
The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, WV

WVONGA Annual Meeting
September 28-29, 2011
Stonewall Resort, Roanoke, WV

West Virginia Oil & Gas Expo
October 5, 2011, Morgantown
http://www.wvoilandgasexpo.com/

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marcellus Issues Continue To Receive Media Coverage In West Virginia

Issues involving Marcellus Shale drilling and production continue to receive media attention in West Virginia. Provided are recent articles:

"Wood County legislators discuss views about a possible special session on Marcellus issues"
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, June 13, 2011 - click to read

Commentary by Tom Miller: "If state won't step up on shale, W.Va. counties must"
The Herald Dispatch, June 11, 2011 - click to read

"DEP Evolving With Regard to Marcellus Permitting"
The State Journal, June 11, 2011 - click to read

"Morgantown, Mon County at odds over gas well issue"
Associated Press, June 9, 2011 - click to read

"Westover Looks to Regulate Marcellus Shale Drilling"
The State Journal, June 9, 2011 - click to read

"Morgantown advancing ordinance to ban horizontal drilling"
Associated Press, June 8, 2011 - click to read

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shell Chemicals Announces Plans For An Ethylene Cracker In The Northeast U.S.

Shell Chemicals announced today that it is developing plans to build a world-scale ethylene cracker with integrated derivative units in the Marcellus Shale region in the Northeast. The company joins Dow and Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) in the race to build the next cracker in the U.S., but Shell is the first company to specifically target the Northeast.

“Building an ethane-fed cracker in Appalachia would unlock significant gas production in the Marcellus region by providing a local outlet for the ethane,” said Ben van Beurden, Shell Executive Vice President Chemicals. “This fits well with our strategy to strengthen our chemicals feedstock advantage and would be another step in growing our chemicals business to meet the increasing demand for petrochemicals.”

Click to read the company's press release.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lewis Glasser Attorneys To Provide Presentations On Key Natural Gas Issues

Attorneys with Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC will be providing presentations at upcoming events on issues of importance to the natural gas industry.

First, Richard L. Gottlieb will be addressing be addressing the 2011 Annual Meeting of the AAPL (American Association of Professional Landmen), which will be held June 8-11 in Boston, Massachusetts. His presentation on the afternoon of June 10 will cover natural gas land and leasing issues. Gottlieb will be part of a panel discussion entitled “Comparative Oil and Gas Law Review in Appalachia: What the Law Ought To Be.” Gottlieb will be joined by other attorneys from Pennsylvania and New York. This annual meeting attracts oil and natural gas landmen from across the United States.

Gottlieb is a Member of Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC, which is based in Charleston, W.Va. He is the leader of the firm’s natural gas practice. Gottlieb has been a natural gas lawyer for 30 years concentrating on acquisitions of natural gas rights, regulatory issues and complex commercial litigation. In addition to being a frequent lecturer on natural gas law and publishing a variety of articles on natural gas topics, Gottlieb provided the West Virginia law provisions for the AAPL’s comparison of state laws on natural gas leasing, exploration and production. Gottlieb also is listed in Best Lawyers in America for natural gas law and in West Virginia SuperLawyers for commercial litigation.

Second, Mark A. Sadd and David B. McMahon will be presenting different legal perspectives on surface owner issues for a West Virginia Continuing Legal Education seminar, “Marcellus Shale in West Virginia” in Charleston on June 10, 2011. Sadd, a member of Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC, lead’s the firm’s real property practice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WVU Professors See Benefits From Proper Marcellus Drilling, Extraction

Two professors at West Virginia University have gone on the record as saying that if Marcellus drilling and extraction is done right, it can be safe and good for the state. Both, however, indicated concerns about current regulations. That is according to an article in the May 31, 2011 edition of The Dominion Post. The professors are: Dr. Tim Carr, the Marshall S. Miller professor of energy in the Eberly College geology and geography department, and Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, who directs WVU’s Water Research Institute.

Clear to read the entire article.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Legal, Property, Environmental Issues Looming For State's Natural Gas Industry

An article in today's Charleston Daily Mail highlights a variety of legal, property and environmental issues that may be on the horizon for the state's natural gas industry. Leaders for environmental and surface owner groups are quoted. Click to read article.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

State DEP Officials Respond To Lawmakers On Natural Gas Drilling Issues

Lawmakers again discussed issues of concern about natural gas drilling when they met earlier this week for a interim committee meeting in Charleston. DEP officials responded to questions about naturally occurring radioactive materials and water well contamination. State regulatory officials say they haven't come across any major problems with either issue. DEP Secretary Randy Huffman noted that the current level of drilling activity is not overtaxing this inspectors. He noted -- "I'd say we're holding on, but I'd say that it's a pace that's difficult to maintain over the long haul."

Click to read story by the Associated Press.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Companies Exploring Investing In Ethane Cracker Plant In W.Va., Task Force Told

Acting Governor Tomblin's Marcellus to Manufacturing Task Force met for its first full meeting yesterday and discussed efforts to attract investments in ethane cracking facilities in West Virginia. Provided are articles on the meeting:

"Four Companies Consider Ethane Cracker" - click to read

"Official says Bayer moving toward W.Va. natural gas facility" - click to read

"Task force eyes ethane 'cracker' plant" - click to read

"W.Va. begins look at Marcellus offshoot project" - click to read

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Natural Gas Issues During Newpaper-Sponsored Forum

The Wheeling, W.Va., newspaper held two forums this week for candidates seeking nomination in the special gubernatorial Primary Election, which will be May 14. One forum was for the Republican candidates, and the other was for Democratic candidates. Here are articles on both forums:

Article about forum for Republican candidates: click to read

Article about forum for Democratic candidates: click to read

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pressures, Problems Growing For Eastern Horizontal Gas Producers

Horizontal producers in the eastern U.S. could be facing even more increased pressures and problems:

Article - New York’s Attorney General threatening to take legal action against hydraulic fracking if feds don't act soon (click to read)

Article - U.S. Energy Secretary Chu: The U.S. government should investigate safety of hydraulic fracturing (click to read)

Article - Pennsylvania’s new Republican Governor says he is opposed to “forced pooling” (click to read)

Monday, April 25, 2011

W.Va. Gubernatorial Candidates Agree, Disagree On Marcellus Shale Issues

Marcellus Shale is a key topic of discussion on the campaign trail in West Virginia, as candidates seek votes in the May 14 Special Primary Election. The candidates are vying to be their respective party's gubernatorial nominee to fill the unexpired term held formerly by Joe Manchin. The candidates' views about Marcellus Shale regulation and taxes were the topics of an April 25 article written by the Associated Press. The candiates all agreee that Marcellus Shale production holds significant promise for the state and indicated that the resource should be developed. However, the candidates had differing views on associated regulatory and environmental matters. Click to read the article.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 20 Is "Day Of Action To End Extraction," According To Environmental Extremists

Environmental extremists are hoping to mobilize widespread protest activities against extraction industries and supporters on April 20. According to a group called, Rising Tide North America, April 20 has been deemed "Day of Action to End Extraction."

Here is what the group is saying on the World Wide Web:

"Communities around the world are under attack from extractive industries that poison our families, kill our loved ones on the job, and destroy the ecosystems we cherish. The BP oil spill was unfortunately just one of an endless string of disasters born of an economic system that must endlessly consume the Earth’s resources.

"Extraction is the act of taking without giving anything back. Extraction takes workers lives so corporations can make a few more bucks. Extraction takes clean water and air and gives us blackened oceans and a climate in chaos. Extraction takes the natural wealth of communities and ecosystems and leaves behind poverty and ecological wastelands.

"For a stable climate, clean air and water, we must stop the extraction of fossil fuels and other 'resources.' From the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, people are fighting back against the extractive industries that have declared war on our planet. Rising Tide is calling for a day of direct action against extraction on the 1 year anniversary of the BP oil spill.

"On April 20th take it to the point of production. Shut down a well site, occupy a mine, take over an office, blockade a bank. Nobody’s community should be a sacrifice zone."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Legislators To Gather For Interim Meeting On May 16; Decision To Be Made About Unitization Study

The West Virginia Legislature has announced dates for interim meetings in May. Lawmakers will gather in Charleston May 16-18 for the first of their series of monthly interim meetings in 2011. During this upcoming meeting session, legislative leaders will decide whether to pursue legislative studies related to Marcellus Shale production as well as unitization (SCR 62). LGCR Government Solutions will monitor the interim committee meetings and provide updates as things develop.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Marcellus Industry's PR Efforts Under Fire

A Pittsburgh-based weekly newspaper is suggesting the region’s natural gas industry continues to be behind the curve when it comes to issues involving Marcellus drilling and production. The article, “Gas companies waging PR battle over Marcellus Shale,” highlights continued public relations issues and environmental complaints facing the industry. The April 7 article notes: “What exactly the industry has done in terms of PR, and how effective it's been, is open to debate. Industry experts themselves acknowledge that PR hasn't been a focus of natural-gas drillers.”

Click to read article.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Morgantown City Council Calls For Drilling Regulations, But Holds Off On Moratorium

Last evening the Morgantown City Council met and took up two resolutions involving the state’s oil and natural gas industry. The first resolution was to ask the Governor to call a special session to pass Marcellus/horizontal drilling regulations. The second was to call for a moratorium on drilling of Marcellus wells until legislation is passed to regulate the same. Several people from the industry, including the executive director of the W.Va. Oil & Natural Gas Association, spoke against a moratorium. There were a couple of residents from the city who spoke for a moratorium, as well as two students, a retired USGS employee, a former engineer from Consol Energy and a member of the Sierra Club. Council members debated the matter and offered amendments before finally adopting a resolution that was silent on the issue of a moratorium. The resolution calls for the city to join legislators, the city of Beckley, the Dominion Post and the Beckley Register-Herald in asking the Governor to call a special session to pass legislation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Concerns About Horizontal Drilling Prompting Calls For Permit Moratorium

The specter of a moratorium on horizontal drilling in West Virginia continues to loom. Now that the 2011 regular legislative session has ended, a group of lawmakers is calling for the state DEP to put a halt to new drilling permits for horizontal wells. They want this imposed until the Legislature enacts tougher regulations and hires more natural gas inspectors. However, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has rejected the call for a moratorium. This pressure continues because a general viewpoint has arisen in the media and among certain elected officials that the state of West Virginia is behind the curve on responding to the sudden increase in horizontal drilling activities. A DEP-proposed legislation would have imposed new regulations and requirements on oil and natural gas drilling activities in the state. Over the past month media outlets and some local officials (including in Morgantown) have joined the moratorium bandwagon. They are concerned about the Legislature’s failure to respond to perceived regulatory and environmental challenges that accompany horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities.

Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC and LGCR Government Solutions continue to monitor the situation.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine Profile The Promise Of Shale Gas

Two leading national publications have feature articles on the promise of natural gas from shale formations:

Time Magazine

Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DEP Opposes Marcellus Moratorium, But May Explore Emergency Rules

West Virginia DEP Secretary Randy Huffman says he is opposed to calls to place a moratorium on Marcellus drilling permits, which is a position being advocated by a small number of liberal legislators. Calls for the drilling moratorium have arisen following the failure of the state Legislature to enact a DEP bill that would have increased drilling fees and imposed additional regulations on the state’s natural gas industry. Huffman, in an article in today’s The Register-Herald, says he does not think the current situation justifies a moratorium. “If I ever felt the industry was so far out in front of our ability to properly regulate it, then I would consider such a thing,” Huffman is quoted in the article. “I just don’t think we are there at this point.” He noted that he thinks his agency “can regulate the industry well enough — not perfectly, but well enough to get by in the near term.” The Secretary said, however, that he is exploring possible emergency rules now that the Legislature has adjourned for the year.

Click to read article.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Acting Governor Calls For $2 Million To Fund 8-10 Additional Inspectors

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is calling on legislators to appropriate an additional $2 million from the state's General Revenue fund so the state DEP can hire 8-10 additional Office of Oil & Gas inspectors for increased Marcellus well drilling activities in West Virginia. The Governor reiterated his funding request during a press conference this afternoon. Governor Tomblin also said he does not think a special session on Marcellus regulatory bill is in order at this time. The Associated Press notes in an article that "Tomblin says the various stakeholders are no closer to a compromise than they were when their disagreements derailed a proposal during the just-completed regular session."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Acting Governor Tomblin To Address Post-Session Marcellus Regulation

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will hold a press conference tomorrow (March 16) to discuss regulation of Marcellus Shale development as well as a wrap-up of the 2011 Legislative Session. Click to read announcement.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Legislative Session Ends With Passage Of Ethane Cracking Incentive Bill; Regulatory Bill Fails

The West Virginia Legislature concluded its 60-day regular session last evening after completing action on one of two bills related to Marcellus production in the state. Lawmakers passed a measure (S.B. 465) that will provide tax incentives for the location of a ethane "cracking" plant in the state. Lawmakers failed to come to agreement on legislation (Com. Sub. for S.B. 424) that would have imposed new drilling and hydraulic fracturing regulations, expanded surface owner rights and increased drilling permit fees.

Click to read articles -
Sunday Gazette-Mail

The Register-Herald

Saturday, March 12, 2011

State Geological Survey Creates On-Line Marcellus Map With Drilling Locations

The West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey has created an interactive web site that shows the Marcellus Shale formation in the Mountain State and locations of actual drilling sites. WVGES's "Marcellus Shale Mapping System" displays locations of completed Marcellus wells as well as permitted wells. The web site also provides general information about the Marcellus formation, including depth and thickness.

Click to see the WVGES Marcellus Shale Mapping System.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Marcellus Drilling Bill Appears Headed To Conference Committee

Marcellus drilling legislation (Com. Sub. for S.B. 424) is expected to go to legislative conferees tomorrow, which is the last day of the 2011 regular legislative session. The bill, as amended by the House Judiciary Committee, contains a better defintion of a horizontal well based on water usage, preemption of local regulation and no severance tax increase. However, the bill's surface owner rights and water reporting provisions remain in controversy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

House Ready To Pass New Version Of Horizontal Drilling Regulatory Bill; End Of Session Looms

Horizontal drilling legislation adopted yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee moved along today as the House Finance Committee also gave its approval to the bill. The bill, Com. Sub. For S.B. 424 (as amended by the House Judiciary Committee) is pending Second Reading on the House floor. If the full House passes the measure by Saturday night (when the 2011 session ends), the measure then will go back to the West Virginia Senate. At that point in time, the upper body either will accept the House’s rewrite of this bill or the measure will go to a conference committee. The version modified by the House Judiciary Committee includes tougher environmental and regulatory provisions than passed by the state Senate. All action on bills must be completed by midnight on March 12.

Click to read article in The Charleston Gazette.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

House Judiciary Committee Planning Tougher Environmental Regs In Horizontal Drilling Bill

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take action this morning on legislation related to horizontal drilling activities in West Virginia, and the committee members are expected to insert tougher environmental and regulatory provisions in the bill. The committee will be taking up S.B. 424, which was passed by the upper house last week. The committee is expected to insert provisions to make drillers develop water management plans and disclose information about the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing. Any changes to the bill would have to be passed by the full House and then accepted by the Senate...or they will have to go to a conference committee. The 2011 regular session of the Legislature ends this Saturday, March 12.

Click to read article in The Charleston Gazette.

Click to read article in The Register-Herald.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Natural Gas A Bargain Compared To Oil

Natural gas is one-fourth the cost of oil on an energy equivalent basis, according to a study by a WVU professor. "...a unit of natural gas currently costs about $4, while the price of oil is skyrocketing to well over $100 per barrel. This means that natural gas can produce the same amount of energy that oil can, and do so for about $24, or less than one-fourth the cost of a barrel of oil." Click to read an article in today's The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

State Senate Passes Marcellus Drilling Fee, Regulatory Bill; House To Determine Bill's Fate

Legislation to increase permit fees and establish added regulatory requirements for Marcellus drilling activities is sitting in the House of Delegates. The bill, Com. Sub for SB 424, was passed by the Senate yesterday and was communicated to the House and read a first time. The bill does not include key provisions sought by horizontal producers, such as forced pooling. It is unclear as to whether the bill, as passed by the Senate, will be accepted by the full House and enacted...or sent to a House committee for further modification during the final two weeks of the 2011 regular session. Passage of a final bill likely will be dependent upon the degree to which changes, if any, are made by the House versus what the Senate passed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Horizontal Drilling Regulatory Bills Alive, Moving In West Virginia Legislature

The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee passed out the Committee Substitute for the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 424, and the bill is on the first of three readings today (March 1). This bill regulates horizontal drilling activites in West Virginia and would enact water and road use requirements where water use exceeds 210,000 gallons and where horizontal rigs and supply vehicles use state highways. The measure, however, does not provide for forced pooling. The West Virginia House read for the first time its version of a horizontal drilling regulatory bill (Committee Substitute for House Bill 2878). This House version regulates much more pervasively then Senate Bill 424. H.B. 2878 also does not include forced pooling.

It is expected both bills will be read three times by the end of this week and then each legislative body will appoint conferees to work out differences in the bills and agree to any other modifications. It is hoped the conferees will be open to streamlining the regulatory requirements. The 60-day regular legislative session will end Saturday, March 12.

Efforts also are being made to get lawmakers to pass a Study Resolution on unitization of gas mineral interests and co-tenancy issues. The study would be conducted during legislative interim sessions over the summer and fall of 2011.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Scaled Back Marcellus Regulatory Bills Remain Alive, But Without Forced Pooling

Legislators in both houses of the West Virginia Legislature scaled back legislative proposals related to added regulations and fees on Marcellus Shale drilling activities in the state. The bills were approved by committees in both houses….in an effort to keep them alive during the remaining two weeks of the 2011 regular legislative session. Neither proposal includes any forced pooling provisions. If each bill is passed by its respective house, then lawmakers will need to see if they can reconcile the differing versions in the bills.

Read articles:

Marcellus shale bills progressing
Charleston Daily Mail

Lawmakers scale back proposed Marcellus regulations
The Charleston Gazette

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prospects For Passage Of Marcellus Legislation Becoming Uncertain

A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee voted earlier this week to delete statutory pooling from a natural gas regulatory reform bill. Following this, the subcommittee finalized the proposed bill and sent it on with a recommendation that the full committee approve the measure. The pooling provision was struck from the bill due to opposition by minerals owners and others. On the Senate side, the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee has sent its DEP bill to a subcommittee.

However, with the 60-day session nearing its final two weeks, passage of any legislation related to natural gas regulatory changes may be problematic. Click to read article in today’s Charleston Daily Mail.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vocal Support From Marcellus Producers Needed Now To Preserve Statutory Pooling

A Marcellus Shale stakeholders group worked for more than four hours Sunday night refining a regulatory bill that contains statutory pooling provisions. Although the two most significant Marcellus drillers in West Virginia continue to work to advance the bill, a lack of vocal support from other Marcellus drillers may doom the pooling provisions of the bill. Mineral owners, farmers and small drillers are aggressively contacting their legislators urging defeat of the Marcellus provisions and other regulatory aspects of the bill. The opportunity for forced pooling may be lost if Marcellus drillers do not immediately make their voices heard. Key legislators who should be contacted are those in the north, northwestern and northcentral parts of the state. Legislators and their districts can be identified and contacted by email or toll free phone numbers. See http://www.legis.state.wv.us/ for legislative information.

Friday, February 18, 2011

House Judiciary Committee Develops New Version of Horizontal Drilling, Pooling Bill

The House Judiciary Committee has prepared a new draft (Com. Sub. For HB 2878) of its version of a natural gas regulatory program and statutory pooling bill. The new draft of the bill, click to read, is expected to be considered by a subcommittee starting next week. Lewis Glasser and its GR affiliate, LGCR Government Solutions, continue to monitor the 2011 legislative proceedings, which now are past the half-way point.

Articles:
Marcellus gas legislation ready for review
Associated, Press, Feb. 20, 2011
Forced pooling imperils shale bill
Charleston Daily Mail, Feb. 18, 2011

Marcellus Drilling Regs, Statutory Pooling Topics Of Public Hearing At The Capitol

A public hearing at the State Capitol yesterday afternoon brought forth a number of differing views about the pros and cons of increased natural gas drilling in West Virginia. The hearing was called so the public could provide comments on proposed legislation that would expand the state’s regulatory powers on natural gas drilling, particularly horizontal drilling activities, and would allow for statutory forced pooling. Trade groups leaders and companies talked about the economic benefits of expanded horizontal drilling, while surface owners and environmentalists expressed a variety of concerns and fears. Provided are links to articles about the hearing:
- The Charleston Gazette
- Charleston Daily Mail
- Associated Press

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Governor Tomblin Forms Marcellus Shale Development Task Force

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the creation of a special Marcellus to Manufacturing Task Force. Speaking at the State Capitol, Tomblin said he is taking “a step forward with an economic development opportunity that I believe is right for West Virginia and our future.” “I believe Marcellus Shale is an opportunity whose time has come for us.” He noted that not only does Marcellus Shale production benefit the state as an energy source, but it also can benefit through the extraction of ethane, which could reinvigorate the state’s manufacturing sector.

Tomblin said he has asked the team of experts to come together to address these areas:
1) Research of all natural gas byproducts for potential economic development;
2) Identify existing facilities that could be modified to support such byproduct industries in West Virginia and formulate a West Virginia Marcellus-to-manufacturing action plan;
3) Research and analyze the feasibility of converting ethane to ethylene;
4) Identify potential companies that specialize in constructing or operating thermal or steam crackers in West Virginia; and
5) Develop strategies for recruiting such companies and studying existing pipelines or storage facilities that may be upgraded to accommodate the manufacturing processes associated with ethane and ethylene.

The Task Force Members are:
• Greg Babe, President and CEO Of Bayer Corporation and Bayer Material Science LLC;
• Kevin DiGregorio, Ph.D., Executive Director, Chemical Alliance Zone West Virginia;
• Patrick Donovan, Director, Maritime and Intermodal Transportation, Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute;
• Don Garvin, Legislative Coordinator, West Virginia Environmental Council;
• W. Henry Harmon, President and CEO, Triana Energy;
• Michael John, President and CEO, Northeast Natural Energy;
• Jack Lafield, President and CEO, Caiman Energy;
• Steve Perdue, Government Affairs Manager, EQT;
• Scott Rotruck, Vice President of Corporate Development and State Government Relations, Chesapeake Energy;
• Steven H. White, Director, Affiliated Construction Trades;
• Kurt Dettinger, General Counsel for Governor Tomblin; and
• Keith Burdette, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

Click to listen to the Governor's announcement.
Click to read the Governor's statement.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

EPA Issues Draft Plan For Study On Hydraulic Fracturing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted a draft study plan on hydraulic fracturing for review by the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group of independent scientists. The scope of the proposed research includes "the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water and its ultimate treatment and disposal," according to the EPA's press release (click to read). The EPA says the SAB plans to review the draft plan March 7-8, 2011.

"EPA scientists, under this administration and at the direction of Congress, are undertaking a study of this practice to better understand any potential impacts it may have, including on groundwater," the agency adds.

Subcommittee Considering Adding Pooling To House Marcellus Bill

A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is discussing H.B. 2878 (Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Drilling Gas Act), which is the natural gas regulatory reform bill that came out of the joint interim committee meetings held in 2010. The bill, as drafted, does not include provisions for statutory pooling, but the subcommittee is considering adding these provisions. Kevin West, Managing Director for External Affairs for EQT, provided comments this morning to the subcommittee in support of statutory pooling. Other speakers who are commenting to the subcommittee on the issue of pooling include representatives for surface owner, mineral owner and royalty owner groups. LGCR Government Solutions is monitoring the subcommittee meeting, and will provide an update as things progress.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ethane Cracker Incentive Bill Introduced In West Virginia Senate

Legislation has been introduced in the West Virginia Senate designed to help spur natural gas use and encourage investment in multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker facilities. The bill (S.B. 465) is the Marcellus Shale Gas and Manufacturing Development Act. Among its provisions are ones that call for the state to dedicate a portion of future Severance Tax revenues 1) to counties and cities and 2) to the state Division of Highways (to repair roads damaged by drilling activities). The bill also provides tax credits for natural gas vehicles and refueling infrastructure. Click to read more in an article in today's Charleston Daily Mail.

Monday, February 7, 2011

DEP Regulatory, Pooling Bill Introduced In West Virginia Legislature

The Tomblin Administration's version of a DEP regulatory reform bill has been introduced in both houses of the West Virginia Legislature. The bills are S.B. 424 and H.B. 3042. The legislation adds a new category of well, the "horizontal shallow well," to the regulatory structure and includes a statutory pooling provision for those shallow horizontal wells. The bills are largely based on the existing requirements for statutory pooling of deep wells with certain revisions. Under the bills, a slightly reconstituted Oil and Gas Commission shall decide pooling and unitization issues for shallow horizontal wells.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Legislators Holding Informational Meetings On Marcellus Shale Development

The Finance and Judiciary Committees of the West Virginia Legislature are holding special joint meetings to learn about natural gas activities related to development of the Marcellus Shale. The public meetings are an outgrowth of a series of interim committee meetings held throughout 2010. The most recent meeting on February 4 focused on investment potential that the Marcellus Shale development may provide to the state, as well as a new permit and bonding policy of the state DOH that is in response to horizontal drilling activity impacts on roads. A future meeting will focus on proposed statutory pooling provisions, which are being advocated by LGCR and natural gas trade groups. Click to read an article on the meetings in The Charleston Gazette.

Lewis Glasser and its government relations affiliate, LGCR Government Solutions, are monitoring these meetings as well as other legislative matters related to the natural gas industry.