Efforts are being made to reintroduce a forced pooling bill which died in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session. Mineral owners who oppose this bill believe it is clearly intended to allow the industry to take millions of acres of unleased minerals in this state.
Delegate “Woody” Ireland (R- Ritchie County) is the primary sponsor of the forced pooling bill. He stated at a stakeholder meeting held at the Capitol on Jan. 7 that Ritchie County, “has more oil and gas wells than any other county in the state.” Del. Ireland argues that he is looking out for the interests of the state as well as mineral and surface owners; however due to his ownership of surface land and minerals in Doddridge and Ritchie Counties he is heavily vested in the outcome this legislation. This raises the question about other legislators who may financially benefit from the passage of a forced pooling/lease integration bill.
Local surface and mineral owners across the state remain opposed to a forced taking of their mineral rights. “This oil and gas would not be captured by ordinary vertical drilling. It is simply involuntary seizing of my reserves at a price set by a commission,” said Liz Tobey, a surface and mineral owner in Greenbrier County. “Our country was founded upon a free market system that allow(s) the owner of something to decide when and for how much to sell their property, not on the idea that if a corporation wants to make a buck, they can just take it.”
Members of the Southern WV Mineral Owners Coalition will align with other groups in the state and are committed to use their own resources to vote out of office any legislator who votes “Yes” on this bill in the next election. “We will not quietly stand by as our elected officials put the profits of an industry over the rights of the people in this state.” said Basil Keaton a surface and mineral owner in Raleigh County.
For more information about statewide opposition to the proposed forced pooling bill contact the Southern WV Mineral Owners Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-207-1150.
Southern WV Mineral