WV SORO Legislative Update Archive

February 20, 2008

WV-SORO Founder on Talkline at 11am Today

WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization Founder Dave McMahon (or another WV-SORO representative) will be on the statewide call-in show Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval at 11am today.  Charlie Burd, Executive Director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association is also scheduled to be on the show.  Please tune in and consider calling in to voice your support for surface owners' rights.  You can call in toll free 1-800-765-8255.  Click here to find a station in your area. 

Informational Meeting on Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights

Wednesday's joint meeting of the House Industry & Labor/ Economic Development & Small Business Committee and the Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee has been deemed an informational meeting, therefore comments from the public are not likely to be accepted.  We were hoping for a public hearing so that surface owners would have an opportunity to tell their stories, but the fact that this meeting is being held shows legislators are interested in learning more. We plan to make the most of this opportunity to make them aware of all of the many problems surface owners experience and clear up the misinformation the industry has been circulating about the Surface Owner's Bill of Rights. If you live in or within reasonable driving distance of Charleston, we still encourage your attendance as a strong turnout will show there is interest in the bill and support for giving surface owners more rights.  The meeting is at 4 PM in the House Chamber.  

Industry Myths Debunked: Facts About the Surface Owners' Bill of Rights

MYTH:  The bill will reduce the number of wells being drilled and hurt economic development, jobs and taxes.

•Nothing in the bill gives the surface owner the power to stop drilling or block permit issuance.

•The bill requires the driller to give the surface owner an extra 60 days notice of the driller’s plans so the surface owner can try to work with the driller on the well site and access road locations etc.  So the bill could make a driller plan his permit application 60 days further in advance, BUT the driller already has to wait 1 year to rent a drilling rig.

•If the driller comes to a “surface use and compensation agreement” with the surface owner, the surface owner waives the extra 60 days in the bill, and the current statutory 15 day comment period on the permit.

MYTH:  The bill contains extreme provisions.

•New Mexico passed legislation requiring a surface use and compensation agreement last year.

•Oklahoma has had similar legislation since 1982.

•At least 5 other states require compensation at market value for land used by the driller.

MYTH:  All we need is enforcement of existing laws.

FACT:  There is no current law that encourages compliance with, let alone enforces, the surface owners rights to limit the driller to doing only what is “fairly necessary”.

MYTH:  Provisions in the bill will make it so expensive to drill wells that fewer will be drilled.

FACT:    It costs, minimum, a quarter million dollars to drill an oil or gas well.  Giving the surface owner a little consideration on where an access road is well site is located will not significantly increase the costs.

MYTH:    Driller cannot move well sites to accommodate surface owner interests.

FACTS:    In West Virginia, oil and gas is found in “stratigraphic” traps and not “structural” traps.  So moving a well a few hundred feet will make very little difference in whether a well hits oil or gas.

MYTH:    Requiring the driller to offer the surface owner residential gas at costs makes the driller a public utility and it will be too much trouble to meet the expectations of gas users.

FACT:    The Public Service Commission has rules for when it can declare a natural gas provider a public utility.  The bill contains an exemption from the PSC requirement for these wells.

MYTH:  Having a residential user of gas from a well is too much trouble for the driller, and too much liability.

•The bill contains a liability waiver for the driller.

•The bill does require a Legislative Rule to be promulgated that will assure that the agreement with the surface owner for residential gas makes clear what the driller will be responsible for and not responsible for.

•The driller does so much that is inconvenience to the surface owner’s land, and leaves behind a well and access road that will be there for decades.  It is not too much to ask to let the surface owner pay for some gas.


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