WV SORO Update Archive

January 29, 2010

Legislative News: Surface Owners' Bill of Rights Reintroduced ~ Thank Our Sponsors
Thanks go out to Delegate Mike Manypenny of Taylor County for taking the lead on our surface owners’ rights issues.  Our Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights (HB 3023) was reintroduced and, with Delegate Manypenny’s help, we are looking for sponsors for an alternate bill that we are calling the Surface Owners’ Rights Recognition Act. The latter is a slightly pared down compromise that our supporters in the legislature believe will improve our chance of gaining some rights for surface owners this year. We'll continue to keep you posted about the progress of these and other bills we mentioned in our previous update.  In the meantime, be sure to thank Delegate Manypenny and the cosponsors of HB 3023 for their efforts on behalf of West Virginia surface owners.

If you want to come to Charleston to lobby or meet with your legislators, please contact Norm (norm@wvcag.org) or Julie (julie@wvcag.org). We’ll be happy to arrange meetings with your legislators and show you around the Capitol.  A face-to-face meeting and your first-hand accounts of needless destruction of timber, lost home sites, destructive road building and ruined pastures caused by drillers can have a big impact.  Since the oil and gas lobby is several times larger than our team, it will also help off-set their numbers.  Remember it is an election year for all the delegates and half of the Senate. You are their bosses -- come and remind your legislators they work for you, not the oil and gas companies.

Governor Manchin to IOGA: "Call me if you don't think you're being treated right."
On Wednesday, Governor Joe Manchin was quoted in the Charleston Daily Mail telling the attendees of the the Independent Oil and Gas Association’s (IOGA) winter meeting, "We want you to do well. Call me if you don't think you're being treated right. I want to make sure 'retail government' works for you." 

We already knew that the governor previously tried to push through a bill that would have bailed out gas companies  guilty of defrauding thousands of West Virginians on their royalty payments. Now he seems to be offering the industry his support to continue to let it do as it pleases. You can read the entire article here -- Manchin says state is 'partner.' 

The fact the governor sees state government as a "partner" to the industry is a big part of the problem.  If you resent this "open for business" attitude, contact Governor Manchin and your legislators and let them know how you've been treated.  Let them know that the rights and interests of West Virginia surface owners' need to be protected -- not just those of big oil and gas. Tell them  to support and pass legislation this year to ensure that surface owners' rights are recognized and respected by oil and gas well drillers. You can find information on how to contact your legislators here.  To write or call the Governor’s office:

The Honorable Governor Joe Manchin
1900 Kanawha Blvd East
Charleston, WV  25305
(304) 558-2000 or call toll-free:  1-888-438-2731
e-mail: governor@wvgov.org

EPA Announces “Eyes on Drilling” Tipline
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the creation of the “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development. The agency is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA (toll-free) if they observe what appears to be illegal disposal of wastes or see other suspicious activity. Reports may also be sent via email to eyesondrilling@epa.gov. Citizens may provide tips anonymously. It looks like we might finally get some national help, where the state has continued to fail us. You can read the EPA's press release about the tipline here. Click here for tipline instructions.

Landman Report Card Website Launched:
A Resource to Support Citizens Negotiating with Big Energy

A Landman Report Card website has been launched by MIT's Center for Future Civic Media where researchers develop novel technologies for communities.  The Landman Report Card is an easy-to-use web-based resource that helps landowners learn and share information about landmen for companies that are approaching them to sign oil and gas leases.

Landman Report Card (www.landmanreportcard.com) allows users to submit reports about individual landmen and their companies, browse report cards submitted by other users, contact other users, and use the site as their own private diary of interactions with these industry representatives. The site also provides links to information about best practices for land professionals, information about the gas leasing process, and information to help landowners prepare for a visit from a landman.

Landman Report Card was produced in collaboration with WV-SORO, and other citizens' alliances in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio as well as EARTHWORKS/Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

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