Restoring and increasing funding to the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas will be our lead priority this year. But we will still be pushing legislation to have the property rights of surface owners recognized, to increase their chances of owning some of the minerals under them, and to deal with thousands and thousands of orphaned wells and other environmental problems.
We will also be active opposing legislation the industry introduces (out of its sense of entitlement) which will harm the interests of surface owners (including some fortunate few of whom are also small mineral interest owners).
Some think that the recent election results will hurt our chances on those fronts. We disagree. WVSORO has always tried to be non-partisan. Rural Republican legislators have generally been lead supporters of our positions. Our issues are in essence property rights issues favored by many of those just elected.
Here is a bulleted list of our five main priorities.
-Fully Fund the Office of Oil and Gas: In 2020 staff was cut from 40 to 25. Require industry to pay $100 per well to fund the OOG. There is now only one inspector for every 5,000 wells.
-Orphaned Well Prevention: Prevent Thousands and Thousands More Wells from Becoming Orphaned.
-Protect Surface Owners: Implement the Recommendations of the WVU Studies Required by the 2011 Horizontal Well Act.
-Land Reunion: Let Surface Owners Step into the Shoes of the High Bidder If an Interest In Their Minerals Is Sold at a Tax Sale.
-Pipelines: Require Compensation Paid to Landowners in Eminent Domain Proceedings for Pipelines to Be Based on Its Value/Worth to the Pipeline Company.