New Marcellus Drilling Rules for WV Delayed Until 2012

It now looks like West Virginia lawmakers will not adopt new regulations for drilling in the Marcellus Shale this year. In July, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed an executive order creating “temporary” new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations, which have not yet gone into effect (see this MDN story). The new regs are intended to be in place for up to 15 months to give the legislature time to draft a comprehensive overhaul of drilling rules. There was talk of speeding the process along and taking advantage of the current special session of the legislature, meeting this week to rework a redistricting plan, to tackle the drilling issue. But any more work on new drilling regulations for this year is now all but dead:

State lawmakers appear unlikely to draft statewide regulations this year concerning natural gas extraction from the Marcellus shale.

Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, said Wednesday that emergency rules ordered last month by acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin – which are not yet in effect – will be enough to tide the state over until lawmakers meet early next year.

Facemire is the co-chairman of a joint House-Senate committee tasked with drafting a bill to regulate the development of the state’s Marcellus shale gas field, which is expected to be the source of an economic boom.

But Facemire said he’s now in no hurry because of the emergency rules Tomblin asked the Department of Environmental Protection to draft. The DEP has yet to finalize those rules.

"I don’t want to hurry it up," Facemire said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I want to try to take our time, and I want to come out of here with a bill that satisfies the needs of the surface owners while respecting the environment and that allows our people to go to work."

That’s why the Senate isn’t going to meet with House lawmakers this week about shale regulations, even though the Legislature is in town for a redistricting session beginning today.*

*Charleston Daily Mail (Aug 18, 2011) – Marcellus shale bill likely delayed until next year