West Virginia Secretary of State and candidate for governor Natalie Tennant today urged the State Legislature to pass critical legislation regulating the development of the Marcellus Shale. The legislative session ended last Saturday with the House and Senate failing to reach an agreement on competing proposals.
"Political bickering must not stand in the way of critical economic development for the state of West Virginia. I am frustrated, and I know many West Virginians share my frustration. The Legislature and its leaders had time to quadruple vehicle title fees at the DMV, but they wasted precious time and could not pass important drilling legislation," Tennant said.
"Their inaction comes at the expense of the taxpayer by forcing a special session. With our state at a crossroads, we cannot afford to let this opportunity to take control of our natural gas reserves and move West Virginia forward pass us by," said Tennant. "The time to address development of the Marcellus Shale is now. As governor, I will not let politics as usual stand in the way of job creation."
Tennant outlined the potential economic boon from responsible shale development that could provide improvements for some of West Virginia's most important priorities. "The extraction and transportation of our natural gas is a major project that will create good-paying jobs that should go to local workers throughout the state," said Tennant. "Responsible development of the Marcellus Shale can provide resources for advancing education and investing in research and development. Despite the differences in the House and Senate bills, allowing job creating legislation to die in the final hours of the session shows a severe lack of leadership."
Some of the differences in the House and Senate proposals included the distance drillers would have to maintain from water wells and homes, the notice provided to landowners, and the number of inspectors necessary to adequately monitor drilling. The bills also covered development issues such as protection of private property rights, environmental regulations, and permit fees.
"We cannot afford to wait another year. Landowners and businesses must have certainty now," Tennant continued. "West Virginia has a tremendous opportunity to create jobs through innovation in the energy sector, and we have an obligation to take control of our natural resources to push our state ahead," said Tennant. "It is time to confront these issues so that hard-working West Virginians can benefit from this vast energy resource."