February 16, 2011
Reminder: Public Hearing on Marcellus Shale Bills Tomorrow, February 17
Just a quick reminder about tomorrow's public hearing on the two Marcellus Shale bills (HB 2878 and HB 3042) currently before the legislature. The hearing will be held at 3:30PM in the House Chambers at the State Capitol in Charleston.
We have provided a few talking points below that you can use in preparing your remarks. However, each of you has a story and that exemplifies the need for legislation to protect citizens and the environment from Marcellus Shale and other gas well drilling. We think it will be most effective for you to share your personal stories so committee members can see and hear how the pollution and destruction caused by drillers is affecting real people.
If you plan to speak, please arrive a few minutes early. The sign up period will be just prior to the
hearing. Also, please keep in mind that you will likely be limited to 2-3 minutes to make your comments. You may want to have a printed copy of your remarks to hand in so that it is complete and correct for the "minutes" of the hearing.
If you don't wish to speak, please attend if you can as a show of support.
Finally, if you are unable to join us in Charleston tomorrow, be sure to contact your legislators and tell them about what happened to you. Tell them what you think needs to be done to address problems related to both Marcellus Shale and conventional drilling. Visit http://marcellus-wv.com/ and click on "Take Action" to send a quick e-mail (please personalize your message) or click here for additional contact information.
Marcellus Shale development is resulting in what can only be described as “the industrialization of rural West Virginia.” Because our oil and gas drilling laws have not been updated in nearly 30 years, this new boom in drilling (and the new technologies associated with it) is largely unregulated. There are also many problems with other (conventional) gas well drilling that need to be addressed. It is imperative that the West Virginia legislature act now to ensure proper regulation of oil and gas drilling to protect citizens and the environment.
Any bill passed by the legislature must include provisions that:
- Aid surface owners in having their existing common law rights recognized and respected by oil and gas well drillers;
- Give surface owners more say in where wells, access roads, and pipelines are placed; and
- Ensure surface owners receive fair and equitable compensation for their inconveniences and losses.
HB 2878 includes some of these needed provisions but they apply only to horizontal wells.
Other protections needed for surface owners include:
- Increasing the minimum distance for gas wells from dwellings and water wells. Under HB 2878 no horizontal well could be drilled within 1,000 feet of “any existing building or water well” without the written consent of the owner. HB 3042 continues the 200-foot setback requirement for all wells.
- Ending the practice of burying drilling waste on site. All solid pit waste should be removed and landfilled, rather than buried in unmarked sites on a surface owner's land. Unfortunately, both bills continue to allow this practice.
Click here to view what the WV Environmental Council and the WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization believe to be the essential elements needed for any Marcellus Shale regulatory bill.
For more details on what's in (and not in) the bills click here.