Forced Pooling Bill Taken Up by Senate Committee

WV SORO Update
West Virginia
Surface Owners’ Rights Organization
Mar 19, 2017 View this Update Online
On Friday, the forced pooling bill (SB 576) we told you about last week was taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee spent a little over an hour discussing the bill, asking questions of the Committee’s attorney, and began hearing from various parties opposing and supporting the bill.  On Saturday, the Committee reconvened to continue hearing from interested parties, including representatives of different groups representing land and mineral owners, as well as a number of gas companies and their trade organizations. After five hours of testimony, the Committee adjorned without taking any action on the bill.

It’s hard to imagine they would spend all this time on the bill without planning to discuss it further and put it to a vote, and we expect they will take up the bill again when they meet on Monday afternoon.

If you haven’t already, please contact Senate Judiciary Committee members and your Senators and tell them to oppose this shameful attempt to take away the property rights of West Virginians.

(Click here for a list of Committee members with their phone number and email address, followed by a ‘list’ of emails for all members that can easily be copied and pasted into the ‘To’ field of your email.)

The oil and gas industry is sponsoring a Jobs & Energy Rally and busing workers to Charleston on Tuesday to urge legislators to pass SB 576.  Make sure your legislators hear from you. Tell them NOT to pass laws that help the industry at the expense of West Virginia landowners.

See our Action Alert from March 12 for more on why SB 576 is bad for both surface and mineral owners.

Pollution Monitoring & Pipeline Compensation Bills Introduced

Oil and gas drillers say the legislature needs to update our oil and gas laws so that the industry can make more efficient use of modern technologies like horizontal drilling. We say our oil and gas laws need to be updated to provide more protections for surface owners and residents living near these operations.

It’s past time for these protections to be implemented!

A bill (HB 2990) introduced this week in the House of Delegates would implement the recommendations of the studies mandated by the 2011 Horizontal Well Control Act. When the results of the studies were released in 2013, the DEP reported to the Legislature that additional protections were needed “to reduce potential exposures” and” to provide for a more consistent and protective safeguard for residents in affected areas.” However, these safeguards, which include fence-line monitoring for noise, dust, and other air emissions from horizontal drilling sites, were never implemented. HB 2990 would require fence-line monitoring for noise, light, dust, and other air emissions from horizontal drilling sites; set measurable limits for these parameters; and require the use of best available control technology (BACT) to keep drillers from exceeding these limits.

Another bill (HB 3011) introduced this week in the House would change the determination of “just compensation” to be paid to landowners when eminent domain is used for a pipeline and the pipeline does not connect to a residential or commercial end user. The bill would allow property owners to share financially in the gains from the various interstate pipeline projects, if they are approved and built. Click here to read WV SORO co-founder Dave McMahon’s op-ed on “public use” and its worth to landowners.

Both bills have been refered to the House Energy Committee. Please contact House Energy Committee Chair Bill Anderson at (304) 340-3168 and ask him to place the bill on the committee’s agenda, then contact House Energy Committee members and your delegates and urge their support.

(Click here for a list of Committee members with their phone number and email address, followed by a ‘list’ of emails for all members that can easily be copied and pasted into the ‘To’ field of your email.)

Amended AST Bill Passed by House of Delegates

A scaled-down version of a bill weakening the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Act by exempting 29,000 tanks owned and operated by the oil and gas industry passed the House of Delegates on Friday. Lawmakers passed the bill (HB 2811) after the House Judiciary Committee agreed to maintain the registration and signage requirements for all tanks currently covered by the Act. The Committee exempted 2,300 tanks in the “zone of peripheral concern,” which is between 5 and 10 hours upstream from any drinking water intake, from some requirements of the Act but kept in place a mandate that owners of these tanks provide notice to downstream water utilities of there existance and contents.

Read more here and here.

West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25311

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