The West Virginia Legislature is unlikely to draft legislation on Marcellus Shale regulatory reform before the end of the year, according to a state senator with a key role in the process.
Sen. Douglas Facemire (D-Braxton), told NGI's Shale Daily that although he and other lawmakers were at the State Capitol for a special session this week, the purpose of their assembly was to vote on a House of Delegates redistricting bill, not the Marcellus.
"We're already up to our interim [meetings] in September and we go back into regular session in January," Facemire said Thursday. "I don't think there will be enough time to have a special session just on Marcellus."
Facemire co-chairs the Joint Select Committee on Marcellus Shale (JSCMS) with Del. Tim Manchin (D-Marion). The committee is a bipartisan panel of 10 lawmakers trying to reach a consensus on regulatory reform. Facemire said the JSCMS will meet again in September.
Asked if Manchin had suggested meeting this week to discuss the Marcellus, Facemire said, "When you have a special call, that's all you can take up. [Manchin] wanted the committee to meet but we can't do that because, for starters, they're not all here. This special session [on House redistricting] was just called yesterday. There's no time to prepare between now and Saturday."
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the House of Delegates' redistricting bill (HB 106) on Wednesday, citing technical errors. The special session began at noon on Thursday. Facemire said he expected that it would continue through Sunday, with the Senate adjourning for the day on Thursday and returning on Sunday. He said the House would probably continue to meet until then.
"Special sessions are usually three days long, but it just depends on the work involved," Jacqueline Proctor, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, told NGI's Shale Daily on Thursday. "I can't predict with certainty how long this one will go."
Facemire said the JSCMS was using the Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act, also known as SB 424, as the groundwork for a new bill on Marcellus Shale regulatory reform (see Shale Daily, Aug. 11). Separate versions of the bill passed the Senate and the House of Delegates in March but a reconciled version was not agreed upon before the legislature convened for the 2011 season (see Shale Daily, March 15; March 11; March 4).