WV SORO Update Archive

February 25, 2012

2012 Legislative Update
We know it has been a while since we have been in touch, but there has not been much news to report from the 2012 Legislative Session.  There have been a number of bills introduced to address shortcomings in the legislation passed by lawmakers in December (including more than 20 bills sponsored by Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) and various co-sponsors -- read more here and here). Unfortunately, there has been little interest or desire in taking these bills up. Friday was the last day for bills to be out of committee in the house of origin (House or Senate). At this point, bills that are not already out of committee can only be passed using nonstandard procedures.

We were briefly encouraged when HB 2851, which would increase opportunities to rejoin split estates by giving surface owners a chance to own  the minerals under their land if those minerals are sold for unpaid taxes (read more here), was placed on the aganda for a meeting of the House Committee on Energy Industry and Labor.  However, while the bill appeared to have broad, bipartisan support among committee members, the bill was placed in a subcommittee rather than being taken up by the full committee, and did not reemerge. The good news is that by getting it on the agenda we were able to flush out some of the opposition's arguments against it, and will be in a better position to push for passage next year.

Relating to the Marcellus Shale legislation passed in December, we wrote briefly about the most significant changes in our previous update. We have also prepared a version of the bill that highlights that changes that were made to the state's drilling laws, which is available here.  WV-SORO project assistant Joe Dickerson has been diligently working on a summary of the provisions that are most relevant for surface owners and we hope to have it available and up on the website soon.  In the meantime, if you have questions about the new law or how it effects current or future drilling on your land please give us a call at 1-866-WV-B-FAIR or e-mail info@wvsoro.org

Upcoming Events

Hydrofracking Awareness and Water Quality Information Forums: What’s In Your Water?
February 27, 2012 in Wheeling and March 1, 2012 in Bethany

Two informational sessions have been scheduled to provide information on Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling processes, water quality and environmental issues. The meetings will be held on:

Monday, February 27th at 7:00 PM at Wheeling Jesuit University at the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) Auditorium, 316 Washington Avenue, Wheeling, WV

Thursday, March 1st at 7:00 PM at the Bethany Town Hall, Bethany, WV

The panels at both meetings will include Dr. Ben Stout, a stream ecologist and Professor of Biology at Wheeling Jesuit University; Dr. John Stolz, Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University; Dr. Yuri Gorby, Professor of Microbiology and Researcher at University of Southern California, Ms. Rose Baker of the Wetzel County Action Group; and a representative from the gas industry.

These informational meetings are free of charge and open to the public. Those attending are also invited to bring copies of their own water testing results to be included in research to establish baseline of water quality in the Ohio Valley.

For information contact Patricia Jacobson at patnjake@sprynet.com or 304-242-8873, or Sherry Becker-Gorby at 740-769-2447.

Presentation supported by FACT-OV.

Ben Stout, Professor of Biology at Wheeling Jesuit University (bens@wju.edu or 304-243-2316) says, "A lot of folks are having their water tested pre-drilling. They receive lengthy reports but no interpretation or advice on whether their water is safe to use.

"If folks want to come early to the meetings and bring their water testing data we will go through the data with them and interpret it and answer any questions they might have. 

"In exchange we would request that they allow us to scan their  reports and include their data in a regional pre-drilling groundwater database. This community-based participatory research will allow us to collectively establish what groundwater should look like in this region, and to assess any anomalies that might occur due to drilling and hydro rafting activities."

Marcellus Shale Community Symposium ~ March 4, 2012 in Bruceton Mills
WV-SORO is partnering with the Friends of Deckers Creek, Friends of the Cheat, and Preston County CARES (Citizens’ Alliance for Resources and Environmental Safety), to host a Marcellus Shale community symposium focused on land owners’ rights.  Other topics to be addressed include leasing issues and volunteer water monitoring programs. The symposium will be held on Sunday, March 4th 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM at the Bruceton United Methodist Church in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia and is open to the public. Julie Archer from WV-SORO will present “The Top 10 Tips for Surface Owners Before/When the Oil and Gas Driller Shows Up”. Morgantown attorney Jay Leon who specializes in energy, oil, and gas law will address leasing issues such as lease holding and renewal.  Friends of Deckers Creek and Friends of the Cheat will briefly discuss their citizen scientist monitoring programs. There will also be ample time for questions and discussion. This will be a great opportunity for residents to learn more about the potential environmental impacts from Marcellus Shale drilling, land owners’ rights, and to get involved with monitoring efforts.  An event flier is available at http://www.wvsoro.org/temp/SOROSymp2012_Flier.pdf. We hope to see you there!

GASLAND Screening ~ March 9, 2012 in West Union
The Doddridge County Watershed Association is hosting a public screening of the documentary GASLAND on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 6:30 PM.  This event will be at the Doddridge County High School auditorium. The high school is located on Bulldog Drive, a left turn off RT 50 westbound, approximately 1 mile past the intersection of RT 18 & 50 (the flashing red light at West Union).

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