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Consideration of Two West Virginia Bills Down to Wire

Two bills that would affect development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia were nearing final passage in the West Virginia Legislature on Friday, but time was running out on the session.

SB 423, which would amend the state's Aboveground Storage Tank Act, was read for a third time in the state House of Representatives on Friday before passing on a 78-21 vote. The bill was then sent back to the Senate to consider any amendments added by the House.

Among other things, SB 423 would change the definitions of an aboveground storage tank (AST), and require its owners and/or operators to register them by July 1. ASTs and their associated secondary containment structures would then be evaluated and certified by the state. The bill also calls for the creation of "an inventory of all potential sources of significant contamination within a public water system's zone of critical concern and identify those that are not currently permitted or subject to regulation" by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Meanwhile, a second bill, HB 2688, had its second reading in the Senate on Friday. Lawmakers were scheduled to hear a third reading on Saturday. The bill would allow operators in the Marcellus and other shallower formations to pool landowners into units (see Shale Daily, March 6). Currently, forced pooling is allowed for deep wells below the Marcellus, such as the Utica Shale. The legislation would require drillers to acquire or lease at least 80% of the net acreage in a proposed unit (see Shale Daily, Feb. 18).

The West Virginia Legislature's 60-day session is to end Saturday (March 14).

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