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|We’ve received several calls and emails asking about WV-SORO’s position on the latest version of the forced pooling legislation (SB 576) working its way through the Senate. We continue to oppose the bill, although we appreciate the efforts to improve it.
SB 567 contains two parts: “cotenancy,” which we have dubbed “majority rules,” and “joint development”/“lease integration” or what we call “invisible ink.” Below we have outlined our problems with the different parts of the bill.
On Saturday, the bill was on second reading in the Senate, which is usually when amendments are offered. However the bill was advanced to third reading, or passage stage, with the right to offer amendments preserved. We’ll update you after tomorrow’s vote on any additional changes, and if the bill passes, what actions are needed once it goes to the House where we believe members are more open to including better protections for surface owners. In the meantime, click here and here to read more about the bill and what various groups and gas companies are saying about it.
In other news, our “land reunion” bill, SB 369, which would begin to reverse the trend of separate ownership by giving surface owners a first chance to own any interest in the minerals under their land that are sold for non-payment of property taxes, was approved by the Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining (EIM) Committee on Friday, and will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. We’re hopeful that the committee will approve the bill and it will be voted on by the full Senate later in the week. We’ll continue to keep you posted.
Problems with Forced Pooling (Cotenancy and Lease Integration) Bill (SB 576)
West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization