WV Legislature Considers Funding for WV-DEP Oil & Gas Inspectors

by admin on March 15, 2021

WV-DEP inspectors perform a critical function for our State

WV Legislature committees advance WV-DEP drilling fee bill

From an Article by Jeff Jenkins, WV Metro News, March 11, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new fee that could bring up to $500,000 annually to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas will next be considered by the full House of Delegates after approval by the House Energy Committee Thursday.

The measure, SB 404, would create a $2,500 fee that would be charged each time a drilling permit has to be modified.

Those obtaining permits for drilling for oil and natural gas currently pay a one time $10,000 permit fee but are not charged if the permit is modified. There were 200 modifications to existing permits last year.

State DEP Deputy Secretary for External Affairs Scott Mandirola told the committee Thursday the agency needs $2.4 million a year to run the Office of Oil and Gas with 25 inspectors. It currently has $1.1 million for next budget year. The new fee would provide $500,000 of the remaining $1.3 million needed.

The office currently only has 10 inspectors for thousands of wells.

“There are 75,000 wells including abandoned and orphaned,” Mandirola said.

WV-DEP well inspectors are currently funded through permit fees but drilling for natural gas has slowed down in West Virginia causing a significant reduction in fee revenue.

Mandirola said a modification fee is nothing new for the WV-DEP. He said permits for coal, water and air all have modification fees but there’s been no fee for drilling changes.

The bill, which now goes to the full House for consideration, has already passed the state Senate.

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