WV Governor Tomblin Will Regulate Marcellus Shale Drilling on His Own

by Duane Nichols on March 15, 2011

The WV Legislature did not pass bills in the 60 day Session just completed for the regulation of the new horizontal drilling and hydrofracking of deep shales for natural gas production. So, the acting Governor Tomblin proposes to proceed administratively.  [This would have many shortcomings, according to many of our Senators and Delegates].

 “Unfortunately, the Legislature was unable to agree upon a regulatory approach to drilling in the Marcellus shale. Nevertheless, this issue is too important to West Virginia for me to wait any longer,” Tomblin said. “Therefore, instead of calling a special session, I will be directing DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to use his inherent statutory power and rule-making authority to regulate this industry.

  “In addition to protecting the environment, [predictable and reasonable regulations] is the reason that I will direct DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to utilize his existing statutory authority to promulgate legislative rules addressing Marcellus drilling. I am committed to fostering a climate in which companies will invest capital in West Virginia to develop the Marcellus shale in an environmentally responsible manner.”

This threat from Governor Tomblin to regulate this industry on his own has given rise to much talk by legislators for a “special session” of the legislature to resume consideration of SB 424.  Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler has already spoken out in support of this idea.  The Governor’s Office can be reached by phone at 304-558-2000 and by email at governor@wv.gov.  The members of the Legislature can be reached on www.legis.state.wv.us

This past year there were 433 new drilling permits issued for the Marcellus shale, some 58 were completed; this is a booming industry bringing many trucks with much road wear and road damage, many acres of disturbed land, many noisy days and nights and many tons of emissions. When will our State government face up to these challenges? Are you doing your part to help out?  Come out and join in at the next meeting of the WV/PA Monongahela Area Watersheds Compact set for Wednesday, March 23rd at 1 pm, at the Morgantown Airport Annex.

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