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Educating you about the rights that you have,
Working to get you the rights you deserve.
Join Us! You can use the donate button above to join WV SORO, purchase the Surface Owners Guide, and to register your contact information and interests, even if you plan to send a check.
Or click here to view and print a membership form, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to have a membership packet mailed to you.
Did You Know?
West Virginia is second only to Texas in the number of active oil and gas wells in the country. New drilling permits have more than tripled in recent years and West Virginia surface owners have very few rights to protect them from drillers unless they also own the minerals beneath their land. If you live in one of the state’s oil and gas producing counties you know about the polluted streams, needless destruction of timber, lost home sites, careless road building and ruined pastures caused by drillers.
The environmental impact of oil and gas drilling in West Virginia is significant and increasing with the rising number of newly permitted wells.
Every time a gas well is drilled there is potential for groundwater contamination and ruined water supplies. This environmental threat will grow as the oil and gas companies develop leases in the Marcellus Shale formation. The new drilling and fracturing techniques used for Marcellus wells are water intensive. It can take as much as 5 million gallons of water to fracture each well, which in turn produces millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater that is stored on site before it is disposed of. This raises serious questions about the long-term consequence of the use and disposal of these large amounts of water. Where will the water come from and how will it be treated, stored and disposed of to ensure that our water supplies are not depleted or tainted?
In addition to the enormous water needs and increased risks of groundwater contamination, a Marcellus well site can disturb five acres or more of a surface owners’ land.
The WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization (WV SORO) is a growing statewide membership organization whose mission is to protect landowners from abuses by oil and gas drillers. WV-SORO was formed in 2007 by concerned landowners, public interest lawyer Dave McMahon and WV Citizen Action Group (WV-CAG). Our members come from 51 of West Virginia’s 55 counties and 26 other states.
If you are affected by drilling, join us and others who are working to protect and expand surface owners’ rights.
WV SORO focuses on public policy and regulatory changes needed to expand surface owners’ rights and help West Virginians protect their land and water resources. These include passage of a “Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights” to give landowners more say in the location of wells and access roads and ensure that we receive fair compensation for our losses and inconveniences. We can also help you understand your rights.
Resources Available from WV-SORO
- The WV Surface Owners’ Guide to Oil and Gas outlines your rights and gives you step-by-step suggestions on what you should do before, during and after an oil or gas well is drilled on your property.
- A number of other resources available at wvsoro.org. These resources include updates to the Guide, a slide show explaining how a gas well is drilled and what can go wrong, information about horizontal drilling and seismic testing and much more.
- If you are considering leasing your mineral rights, we offer a guide that discusses things to consider before signing a lease. We also have a ‘leasing’ page with additional information for mineral owners.
- Educational meetings on surface owners’ rights and leasing. Check Meetings and Events on our home page for upcoming meetings. Contact us if you would like to help plan a meeting in your area.
Surface Owners’ Rights Organization
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25311