Larry Messina at The Associated Press took a look over the weekend at the push by some West Virginia lawmakers to allow more oil and gas drilling on the state’s public lands.
The AP story focused on opportunities for the state to raise revenues by leasing more drilling rights in state forests:
Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick, who helped lead the discussion during interims, said gas leases could provide a serious revenue boost for that agency.
With the state budget still weathering the effects of the latest recession, the DNR is projected to spend around $86 million from general revenue taxes, federal funds, lottery proceeds, and such special sources as permits and fees this budget year. The agency also oversees state parks and wildlife-management areas among its various duties.
“They’re here looking for money today, and they have a significant resource in minerals,” said Helmick, D-Pocahontas. “We also want to determine how much wealth is out there.”
Not mentioned in the story, but worth considering, is the ongoing case over drilling proposed for Chief Logan State Park (see here, here and here). State parks and forests are different animals, and by statute are managed differently. But it’s still worth noting the pressure for more resource extraction from the state’s public lands.
The Chief Logan drilling case will be heard by the state Supreme Court on Sept 22, and you can download all of the briefs here.