Here’s the latest from Vicki Smith at The Associated Press:
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two groups that represent natural gas drillers say permit fees a legislative subcommittee is proposing for Marcellus shale wells are astronomically high and “an absolute deal-stopper” that could discourage or even cripple the fast-growing industry.
The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and the state’s Independent Oil & Gas Association also object to proposed restrictions on drilling locations that they believe are based on opinion and speculation rather than science — or simply cut and pasted from laws on the books in other states.
“I stopped reading when I got to ‘the waters of the commonwealth,”’ said Corky DeMarco, executive director of WVONGA.
Pennsylvania and Virginia are called commonwealths. West Virginia is a state.
The 90-page draft bill presented to members of a joint judiciary subcommittee earlier this week would impose four permit fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 per well, as well as individual performance bonds of $25,000 per well.
The permit fees include $15,000 for the initial application, $10,000 to modify an existing permit, $5,000 for annual renewals and a $15,000 reclamation fee that would be required before any permit is issued.
“That level of permitting is an absolute deal-stopper. It could shut the industry down in the state,” IOGA director Charlie Burd said.
UPDATED: I’VE POSTED A COPY OF THE BILL HERE.
The fees are “astronomical increases” over the roughly $600 drillers now pay for conventional shallow well permits, Burd said, and many times what other states charge drillers of the deep, unconventional Marcellus wells.