February 13, 2009
2009 Legislative Session Begins ~ Come Lobby with us in Charleston; Join us for WV SORO Day, March 17, 2009
We all know that there are few protections in state law for West Virginia surface owners. A new legislative session has begun and there are two bills that can give landowners more say in the location of wells and access roads and other matters related to oil & gas exploration on their property. The first is being sponsored by members of the Joint Judiciary Committee and is based on laws in New Mexico. It is a step up from current law, but we are also reintroducing our own bill from last year with some small modifications.
Although neither bill was recommended by the interim committee, we hope to get OUR Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights passed and strengthen the state’s drilling laws to better protect landowners. But we need your help. Legislators are used to seeing members of our lobby team, but this doesn’t carry the weight of first hand accounts from their constituents. You can make a significant impact by meeting your your delegate(s) and senators, explaining your issues with the lack of protections and describing the problems and abuses you have experienced. Last year I offered to put up anyone who wanted to come down to Charleston to lobby. I am more than willing to offer my couch(s) again. We are more than willing to show you around, coach you in what to say about our Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights and introduce you to your legislators. If you are interested in coming down please contact me at (304) 346-5891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are planning a WV SORO Day on Farm Bureau Day, on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 and will have more details soon. (Mark your calendars!) This is a good time to come down and lobby your senators and delegate(s). It will also help to show the all the legislators, DEP, the press and the oil & gas industry how important this issue is for West Virginians. This is also an excellent chance for Farm Bureau members to energize and engage your Farm Bureau about surface owners’ issues.
Even if you are unable to come and lobby, we need you to continue to contact and urge your legislators to support surface owners’ rights. Do not hesitate to call them multiple times and express your concerns. I have already seen the impact this has had on a few senators and delegates who let me know that they are being contacted. (Keep up the great work with Senator Minard, Lewis, Braxton, Harrison, and Gilmer counties!)
We hope to have more information on sponsors, bill numbers and committee assignments next week.
WV SORO Organizer