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Modernize W.Va. Gas Laws

Editor, News-Register:

As the sixth-largest natural gas producing state, West Virginia is vital to America’s energy supply and security. In fact, about half of all homes in the U.S. are fueled by affordable, reliable natural gas.

West Virginia is already an energy leader because of its diverse energy resources. And, with the third-largest natural gas reserves in the nation, West Virginia has the opportunity to become a natural gas-producing powerhouse. To realize its full potential as a global energy leader, however, the Mountain State must modernize its natural gas development laws and avoid additional energy taxes.

A recent study by West Virginia University shows the vast economic benefits of amending outdated laws to remove restrictions on the natural gas producer’s ability to consolidate leases into units. This practice is common in other states, including Ohio and in West Virginia for deeper deposits, but not for the abundant and shallow Marcellus shale formation. Having the ability to access multiple properties from a single well site benefits both operators and landowners.

According to the study, a boost in natural gas production would create good-paying jobs and generate new revenue for the state to fund critical programs for West Virginians. Based on well construction, spending due to ongoing production and royalties paid to property owners, the total economic impact over a five-year period would be $1.2 to $2.4 billion, with up to $1.5 billion coming directly from the natural gas industry, and an average employment impact of 940 and 1,900 jobs, attracting investments, raising revenues for the state and accelerating economic recovery. Combining leases also benefits our environment. With fewer well pads needed, operations are streamlined and surface impacts are minimized.

West Virginia is poised for an energy and economic renaissance if it can more efficiently develop its immense supply of shale gas and avert onerous energy tax increases that could also impact consumers. As the data shows, the economic upside is in the billions. And West Virginians would benefit not only from the economic boost but also affordable and locally produced energy.

Stephanie Catarino Wissman

American Petroleum Institute

Appalachia Region

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