House of Delegates Considers Change for Gas-Drilling Rights

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s House is considering Senate-passed legislation to authorize natural gas producers to drill when three-fourths of those with royalty rights agree.

At a House hearing Monday, witnesses were divided over whether the bill would unconstitutionally involve the state in private contracts and represents an economic boom for more than out-of-state energy companies.

State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher says it creates a platform that’s “fair and reasonable to property owners” and is good for the industry and people who work in it.

Julie Archer of the West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization says it lacks landowner protections.

Sean O’Leary of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says a Senate amendment would create tax tiers on gas production that would cut the rate currently from 5 to 4 percent.