WV SORO Update Archive

January 11, 2010

January 19, 2010 ~ Seminar on Metering & Royalty Payments for Mineral Owners

The West Virginia Land and Mineral Owners Association in conjunction with National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) is hosting a seminar on metering and royalty payments on Tuesday, January 19 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The seminar will be held at Embassy Suites in Charleston, WV. Cost: WVLMOA/NARO Member $100 • Non-Member $150
The official registration deadline was January 8, however there may still be spaces available.  If you are interested in attending contact Brooke Pauley at brooke@maplecreative.com or 304-342-6970.  Click here for registration form and agenda. 

Legislative Session Begins This Week

Although the 2010 legislative session doesn't officially get underway until Wednesday, the debate over new regulations for drilling oil and gas wells has already begun.  In addition to working to advance Surface Owners' Rights legislation, this session we will also be supporting bills to address other issues of concern related to the drilling of wells to the Marcellus Shale formation.

A number of these issues, such as where the large quantities of water required to drill these wells will come from, what ends up in the water when it is used in hydraulic fracturing and where drillers dispose of that water afterward, have been the subject of  monthly meetings of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources.  The Commission was set to consider new legislation that would set up a system for regulating water withdrawals as well as addressing some of the issues regarding fracing fluid content and wastewater disposal at its final interim meeting on Sunday, January 10, although only four of ten members present, so they adjourned without taking a vote to recommend passage to the full legislature. The good news is Delegate Tim Manchin (D-Marion) said publicly that if the committee did not pass the bill out, he would sponsor it on his own and we look for others to join him as cosponsors.

In addition to the bill regulating water withdrawals and wastewater disposal, this session we will also be working to strengthen DEP's proposed changes to the rules that regulate oil and gas drilling.  Our first opportunity will come Wednesday morning, January 13, when the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee meets to consider the proposed changes. As we have noted previously, some of DEP’s proposed changes to the rule are beneficial, such as finally requiring synthetic liners for drilling pits and new construction standards for waste pits and water storage impoundments. However, these changes fall short of being protective of the threats to water and land resources and human health. We are working with other citizen groups to recruit committee members to offer amendments that address some of our concerns. Once the committee passes the rule it must still be approved by the full legislature. The oil and gas industry, of course, opposes even the modest rule changes proposed by DEP, meaning it will be an uphill battle to ensure that the rule isn't weakened as it works it way through the legislative process. 

Based on feedback from our sponsors, we are trying a new approach with our Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights this session that we hope will improve chances for passage this year. The bill  will be split into two – one requiring earlier notice and a pre-drilling surface use and compensation agreement and a second to improve damage compensation procedures and awards.  We may also see bills introduced to address enforcement issues and funding for inspectors and that give the surface owner the right of first refusal with regard to buying the minerals under their land  if taxes are delinquent.

Please watch for updates from us on these issue in the coming weeks. We'll provide you with bill numbers, talking points and other information that will be helpful when you contact your legislators and ask them to support these efforts. 

Thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year from the WV-SORO team!

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