West Virginia lawmakers have killed a bill that would have forced pooling in the state.
Senate Bill 576, had been the top priority this session for the state’s natural gas industry. The bill would allow drilling over the objections of a co-owner of mineral rights. Through “co-tenancy”, companies could force adjacent gas reserves into pools for modern horizontal drilling through older leases.
The bill passed the Senate last week, but House leaders felt that there was too little time to build a consensus of support for the legislation. The so they didn’t introduce it into the agenda, effectively killing it for the remainder of the session.
Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, voted against the bill and offered several amendments, which were all rejected.
“We’re making it easier for corporations to take people’s property than it is for the government.” Romano said after passage by the Senate. “We’ve made billions of dollars for oil and gas companies today — nothing for our citizens, nothing for our state.”
Supporters believe pooling legislation is needed to encourage more oil and gas development in the state.
In January the West Virginia Mineral Owners Coalition met to strategize how it would mobilize forces to protect landowner rights. The coalition has been actively lobbying legislators in this session to maintain and continue those protections they won in 2016.