West Virginia’s leading oil and natural gas trade groups have merged in a sign of how the Appalachian Basin has changed in recent years.

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The merger between the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGA) and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association is set to take effect Jan. 1, when the newly formed Gas and Oil Association of WV, or GO-WV for short, is to be born. IOGA Executive Director Charlie Burd will take the helm of the new organization.

The two groups have taken “virtually identical” positions on legislative, regulatory, environmental and safety issues over the years, Burd said. The new organization will be in a better position to advocate for the industry with one voice, he added. But Burd also acknowledged that the merger is emblematic of...