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|The House Energy Committee will hold a public hearing on the forced pooling bill (SB 576) Monday, April 3 from 9AM to 10AM in the House Chamber. Anyone who would like to travel to Charleston to speak out against the bill will have the opportunity to do so. However, considering the high level of interest in the bill and the limited amount of time, speakers will likely have only a minute or two to make their comments.
If you plan to make the trip:
If you can’t make it to Charleston, please make some calls and send some emails to House Energy Committee members and your Delegate(s).
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.
You can also take action via http://protectwvpropertyrights.com/.
Here is the latest on SB 576:
The Senate narrowly passed the bill on Wednesday, on a 19 to 14 vote. Although several amendments were offered to improve the bill, most of the amendments were rejected. A clarifying amendment offered by Senator Mike Romano (D-Harrison) related to surface use in the cotenancy section was adopted. Senator Romano’s amendment clarifies that a surface use agreement is required whether or not the surface owner owns minerals, but the loophole we are concerned about related to existing agreements has not been fixed.
The only other amendment adopted was one offered by Senator Ryan Ferns (R-Ferns) that effectively reduces the severance tax on natural gas production. According to the WV Center on Budget and Policy, the cut in the tax rate will likely cost the state $21 million in revenue for the upcoming next year.
Otherwise the bill remains unchanged and we continue to have the same problems we outlined in our previous update. For your convenience we’ve outlined these concerns again below.
A bit of good 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 overwhelmingly by the Senate. In the House, the bill has been double referenced to the Energy and Judiciary Committees, making it more challenging to get it passed during the last week of the session. Please contact House Energy Committee members and your Delegate(s) and urge them to support SB 369.
Problems with Forced Pooling (Cotenancy and Lease Integration) Bill (SB 576)
West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization