West Virginia Gov. Tomblin Says He Will Regulate Marcellus Shale Drilling on His Own

As MDN noted yesterday, the West Virginia legislature ended its regular session without passing any new regulations governing drilling in the Marcellus Shale, even though most agree there are important issues that need to be addressed in the state as the young but rapidly developing Marcellus drilling industry continues to expand. Now there is word that acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (appointed to fill the position of now-Senator Joe Manchin), will go ahead and regulate the industry on his own, without the legislature’s help.

“Unfortunately, the Legislature was unable to agree upon a regulatory approach to drilling in the Marcellus shale. Nevertheless, this issue is too important to West Virginia for me to wait any longer,” Tomblin said. “Therefore, instead of calling a special session, I will be directing DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to use his inherent statutory power and rule-making authority to regulate this industry.

“I am confident that we will succeed and that the gas in the Marcellus shale will be developed in an environmentally responsible manner.”

“Without a doubt, a predictable and reasonable regulatory environment coupled with an abundant gas supply will result in billions of dollars of capital investment in West Virginia’s natural gas industry,” Tomblin said. “This investment will benefit our economy for generations and will create thousands of good-paying jobs.

“In addition to protecting the environment, [predictable and reasonable regulations] is the reason that I will direct DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to utilize his existing statutory authority to promulgate legislative rules addressing Marcellus drilling. I am committed to fostering a climate in which companies will invest capital in West Virginia to develop the Marcellus shale in an environmentally responsible manner.”*

With the threat of Gov. Tomblin regulating the industry on his own, there’s serious talk from House and Senate members of a special session of the legislature to take up the contentious issue once again. Stay tuned.

*Register-Herald (Mar 15, 2011) – Tomblin plans action on Marcellus