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.
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