West Virginia Natural Gas Alternative Rejected

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – The West Virginia House is advancing legislation to authorize drilling for natural gas where 75 percent of a West Virginia property’s landowners agree, rejecting an amendment to raise the threshold to 90 percent.

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, a Morgantown Democrat, says if lawmakers are going to permit taking property rights they should raise the threshold.

Delegate Mark Zatezalo, a Weirton Republican, says majority owners now can’t exercise their rights to drill and 75 percent is a fair balance.

The bill says nonconsenting co-tenants can choose a prorated share of the highest owner royalties without postproduction expenses, or else a share of production revenues and costs.

The House has adopted an amendment to use unclaimed royalties to support funding for public employees’ health insurance after co-owners can’t be located for seven years.