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.