The staffing level of the DEP Office of Oil and Gas was cut from 40 to 25 positions last year due to a budget deficit.
There is now only 1 oil and gas inspector for every 7000 oil or gas wells and their associated tanks in West Virginia. On top of that, the House of Delegates passed, and the Senate is considering, H.B. 2598 that will drop inspection of 800 oil and gas well tanks by the Division of Water and Waste Management. These tanks are in zones of critical concern around public drinking water supplies, and they will be added back in to the 70,000 tanks that the oil and gas inspectors need to inspect.
Instead of fixing the problems of the Office of Oil and Gas, the Legislature is cutting its authorized spending level in the budget bills of the House and Senate (HB 2022 and SB 125) from $4.8 Million last year to $3.1 Million this year!
Even worse, based on current revenue estimates, the Office of Oil and Gas will operate at a deficit! It will not even have that $3.1 Million in revenue this year to actually spend to maintain its current, reduced staff. The Legislature passed one bill to generate revenue for the Office of Oil and Gas, S.B, 404, regarding horizontal well permit modification fees, but it has killed other bills generating new revenue — HB 2725 and SB 712.
Call and leave a message at the offices of the Chairman of the House Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Tell them we need the Legislature to fund more oil and gas inspectors than we had before — not fewer.
Chair, House Finance Committee, 304-340-3230.
For more Information contact Dave McMahon J.D., Co-Founder, W.Va. Surface Owners’ Rights Organization | 304-343-6101 | firstname.lastname@example.org