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