22 Dec Marcellus Shale Bill Passed in West Virginia House Judiciary
West Virginia Passes Shale Bill
The West Virginia government has made advances toward the regulations of Marcellus Shale drilling in regards to permit fees, buffer zones and regulatory oversights of gas drilling in a recent . The bill, drafted by the staff of Gov. Earl Ray Tombin, passed in an amended form in the House of Delegates with a vote of 92 – 5, and was promptly accepted in the Senate with a unanimous 33 – 0 tally.
The bill provides for a 625-foot buffer zone between drilling facilities and structures which are occupied by either people and/or agricultural livestock, raises the initial well fee to $10,000, governs drilling around the Karst limestone area, and calls for studies of both potential pollution as well as jobs from the Marcellus industry. It also outlines when developers should should provide prior notices to affected surface property owners.
The bill has received its share of criticism from both environmental and landowner groups as not being sufficient enough to protect them, while industry groups disagree with the new permit fees and oversight provisions. Current Marcellus drillers are now paying approximately $400 for permits, and the significant hike to $10,000 for the initial well and $5,000 for each additional well would significantly impact West Virginia’s ability to compete with other Marcellus states. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection has already granted 1,655 well permits and are considering another 206.
With the bill having passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates, the next step is the desk of Gov. Tomblin, who is expected to sign it, thus enacting it as the law of the state.