WV Legislature Fails to Pass “Forced Pooling” on Last Day

by Duane Nichols on March 16, 2015

Forced pooling bill defeated in House with tie vote

From an Article by Aaron Payne, WV MetroNews.com, March 14, 2015

In an unusual series of events, a bill that would allow “forced pooling” or “integrated pooling” was put down by the House of Delegates with a 49-49 vote in the final hours of the last day of the Regular Legislative Session.

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed an amended version that ultimately created a commission charged with approving shallow and deep well gas drilling on large tracts of land when mineral rights owners did not voluntarily give up their rights when 80 percent of the mineral rights have already been obtained.

Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump (R-Morgan) said those who are involuntarily integrated would be required to be compensated at a fair price and would be provided other protections. “The bill contains a protection for those people as to the surface,” he said. “There can be no above ground drilling apparatus, anything like that, on the surface of a person that has been pooled in, hasn’t gone in voluntarily.”

However opponents characterized the bill as a “gift” to the industry and violates property rights.

“I appreciate the work that’s been done and I think this is as fair as it’s going to get, but it’s still my fundamental right. It’s my property, it’s what I own,” Senator Ronald Miller (D – Greenbrier) said.

The bill was sent back to the House in the afternoon, but debate was delayed until later in the night, presumably to secure the votes needed to approve the bill.

The lead sponsor of the bill and chair of the House Energy Committee, Delegate Woody Ireland (R – Ritchie), attempted to promote the benefits of the legislation before the vote. “We’re here again to do what’s right for West Virginia economically, from a standpoint of protecting our surface, from a standpoint of protecting our environment, from a standpoint of making sure folks get a fair shake,” he said. “I think that’s what this bill does.”

However, opponents of the bill –which equated to 21 Republicans and 28 Democrats at the end– said forcing holdouts into the fold was not in the best interest of the people. “Forced pooling means without consent. They don’t want to do it,” Delegate Isaac Sponagle ((D – Pendleton) said. “We’re legally allowing taking their resources and transferring them to someone else who has a lot more political influence.”

The result came as a surprise to many as those who voted against the bill erupted into cheers as the 49-49 result was announced by Speaker Armstead.

Delegate Ireland, lead sponsor of HB 2688, takes a walk out of the chamber after bill fails. #wvlegis

— Whitney Burdette (@wburdette_DM) March 15, 2015

The failure of the forced pooling bill is truly stunning.

— Del. Stephen Skinner (@delegateskinner) March 15, 2015

The two members away from their desks when the vote was taken were Delegate Justin Marcum (D – Mingo) and Delegate Linda Phillips (D – Wyoming). In a previous vote on the bill, Marcum voted for, while Phillips voted against.

Talk on the floors of both chambers wondered if the House could reconsider the bill. Normally, a voter from the prevailing side could call for the motion to reconsider and vote again, but a tie lacks a prevailing side.

See also: www.FrackCheckWV.net

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Humphreys Letter 3/15/15 March 16, 2015 at 10:10 am

Excerpts of Letter to Editor, Morgantown Dominion Post, March 15, 2015

Property Rights Should Prevail in State Trespass

Forced pooling violates the basic principles of our nation.

In 1861, the U. S. government seized property (in Alexandria, VA) of accused traitor Robert E. Lee. His family was forced to surrender their property and their belongings; they damaged the land, cut their timber and built a community there. The government was “entrenched” in its trespass.

Over the next nine years, some 15,000 soldiers were buried on the Lee property. Houses, schools and churches sprang up to accommodate the new population of 1500 people growing food for the war effort.

After the war, Lee’s family argued that the forced taking of property violated the Constitution. Soon, politicians began to clamor that the property was hallowed ground, a shrine for “the sacred dead.”

In 1879, a jury found that the government deprived Lee of his property without due process of law. The court said it was obvious that the forced taking was intentional, “evil” and “unconstitutional.”

The U. S. Supreme Court in 1882 affirmed the lower court ruling in favor of Lee; the forced taking of property by anyone, without due process of law is “unconstitutional.”

Rick Humphreys, Mannington (Marion County)


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