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.