Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, joined by Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Rick Thompson, today announced the passage of the Horizontal Well Act, relating to Marcellus Shale.
"For all West Virginians, the legislature and I have worked together to open the door to new job opportunities and reasonable regulations for Marcellus Shale development with the passage of the Horizontal Well Act," Gov. Tomblin said. "This landmark piece of legislation provides clear rules to the natural gas industry, protects our communities, surface owners and waterways while sending a clear message -- West Virginia wants jobs and we will protect our rights and our environment."
The Horizontal Well Act provides distinct permitting and regulatory rules so that the natural gas industry can develop job opportunities and invest in West Virginia. The Act also provides the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with sufficient funding and regulatory authority, ensuring the safety and protection of our communities, waterways and surface owner rights. Through provisions pertaining to the repair and maintenance of roads, notice of drilling activity to surface owners and reporting of water and frack fluid usage, the Act will generate responsible Marcellus Shale development throughout West Virginia.
"First, I would like to thank Governor Tomblin for his leadership in calling the special session to address this issue that provides enormous challenges and opportunities for the citizens of the state," said Senate President Jeff Kessler (D- Marshall). "I would also like to thank Speaker Thompson as well as Senator Doug Facemire (D-Braxton) and the members of the joint select committee for their tireless efforts and dedication in formulating a bill that became the framework for this historic piece of legislation we passed today."
"I commend Governor Tomblin, President Kessler and all members of the Legislature for working diligently to develop significant, compromise legislation that puts in place much-needed guidelines for the development of this promising industry," said House Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne). "I am very grateful to the joint committee members -- led by Senate Chairman Facemire and House Chairman Manchin -- who spent months gathering input and deliberating on how best to accomplish that goal. While there were many different ideas as to specifics within this complex bill, the Governor and legislators were in agreement that there was an urgent need for a regulatory framework to address the relationship between oil and gas extractors and surface owners and to provide environmental protections. I am very pleased with the resulting legislation."
"I want to thank the members of the legislature for taking a good bill and making it better for the future of West Virginia," Gov. Tomblin said. "As we continue to create priorities and maintain focus, we will achieve success. We will move West Virginia forward."