WV SORO Update Archive

December 16, 2011

Legislature Passes Marcellus Shale Bill

As you have probably heard, the Legislature has passed the Governor's Marcellus Shale bill.   We are beyond disappointed that the Governor and Legislature weren't willing to do more for surface owners to help them have their rights recognized and respected. Considering the impacts of Marcellus Shale and other gas well drilling requiring the drillers to negotiate with us and give us a say in the process was the least they could do.  We wish we'd been able to get a stronger bill.

We greatly appreciate your continued support and everything you have done this week and over the past several months -- from making calls and sending e-mails, to  braving the crowds to attend public hearings around the state and more. Thank you for speaking up and speaking out.

Although the bill falls short of giving surface owners the protections they need and deserve, both the House and Senate adopted amendments that improved the bill. It's unlikely these changes would have happened if SORO and our members hadn't pointed out how terrible the Governor's bill was and how much it deviated from the bill recommended by the Select Committee. 

Perhaps the most significant changes to the Governor's bill, were two amendments adopted by the House Judiciary Committee.  Both were offered by Delegate Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie). The bill now says that, for horizontal wells, drill cuttings and other drilling waste can only be buried on site if a surface owner consents. The Governor’s bill gave the Department of Environmental Protection the discretion to allow on-site burial. Another change requires the DEP to study the  noise, light, dust and volatile organic chemicals generated by the drilling of horizontal wells as they relate to the distance gas wells can be from peoples' homes and, based on the findings, set limits on and propose methods to lessen the impacts of these factors. 

An amendment offered by Delegates John Frazier (D-Mercer) and Bill Hamilton (R-Upshur) to require the 625 feet from homes be measured from the edge of the well pad, rather than the center, was not adopted.  An amendment proposed by Delegates Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) and Linda Longstreth (D-Marion),  to increase the distance gas wells must be from water wells and springs also failed. 

You can read more about the changes made by the Senate here, here, here and here.  More details on the House changes can be found here, here and here. Numerous stories (some with audio and video) of this week's events in Charleston can be found at www.wvsoro.org. We'll provide you with more details on what's in and not in the bill soon.  In the meantime, please contact us with any questions or concerns. 

Thanks again for all that you do!

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