CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) sees a recent ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as a possible advantage for West Virginia when it comes to future natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale.

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared major parts of Act 13, that state’s Marcellus shale drilling law which was passed in 2012, unconstitutional.  The ruling was 4-2.

Among the provisions found unconstitutional was the one allowing gas companies to override local zoning laws.  Before the Court ruling, the law limited the power of local governments to determine where drilling was permitted.  Now, drillers will now face varying regulations throughout Pennsylvania.

“That opens up, in my view at least, an opportunity for folks to say, ‘Let’s go to West Virginia where we know what the rules are,'” said Kessler.

West Virginia’s Legislature approved a comprehensive Marcellus shale bill during a December Special Session in 2011.  It set up a statewide regulatory framework for the Marcellus shale industry.

Kessler said the goal was to provide “predictability” within the industry.  “I think West Virginia’s ahead of the game,” he said.

Last week, officials with two Pennsylvania agencies, the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection, asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider the decision.

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  • editerguy

    Not one thing has happened yet. The entire 'story' here is that one state senator thinks something might happen, that drilling companies might get frustrated at dealing with an informed and active citizenry in Pennsylvania, and try West Virginia in hopes that our people really are the ignorant hicks we look like on television.

    • Charles14534

      The senator's assessment is undoubtedly correct. Industry will want to avoid the delays, costs, and uncertainties that will accompany local regulation.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Why shouldn't local governments be able to regulate? Local governments have to be responsive to the needs of the local people.
    On paper the Pennsylvania law sounds like a good one, at least someone in a local government can see and hear firsthand local citizen concerns and act accordingly. Isn't that the mission of democratic government?

    Could it be that the good people of Pennsylvania don't want to see their state turned into an unregulated, free-drill zone unlike West Virginia politicians? "Knowing what the rules are" and being watched by some distant corruptocrat are two different things. Were they looking to West Virginia as a prime example? Perhaps.

    Sorry Senator, many of us don't consider legitimate health concerns over drilling a "game" and the Pennsylvanians with which I am acquainted don't either.

    • Jason412

      Ill post this again as a fine example of why PA is doing this.

      People were already mad they were unable to stop drilling under Pittsburgh International Airport, but luckily they were able to (so far) stop them from drilling under county owned parks.

      Obviously drilling under parks isn't the sole reason for this legislation, just one of the straws that broke the camels back.

      It only makes sense to give the people the right to decide where and when these companies can drill.

      West Virginia will undoubtedly let them drill wherever and whenever they want.

      At least we can provide jobs to people from the Mid West, who will spend what little money they have to while their here, before taking the rest back to their state and improve their local economy. What a great opportunity!

  • Rodney Hytonen

    "The rules are:" The individual people in West Virginia are available as a sacrifice to give the Extraction industry unlimited profits (or rather, the absentee land speculators who bought the state over a century ago, and therefore own its people. Per Mcf wholesale prices of gas are 1/3 the per Mcf cost of drilling for it!)

    They depopulate us partially by driviing out those already leaving, and killing those of us who can't afford to (slowly and painfully, with cancer.)

    Who will be left to replace the infrastructure of an ugly, toxic industrial wasteland these locusts leave? Or at least clean up the dead bodies of seniors and children dead from the cancer breathing benzene fumes gives us?

    Go stand downwind from one of the football field sized cancer ponds taking over our landscape for over 15 miniutes and then tell me it's not true. I've done it. ("If you can smell benzene, you're being poisoned" -CDC.) And drive down rt. 18 to Porto Rico Rd. in Doddridge.You can smell it two miles away with car windows closed.

    Or just ponder the INDUSTRY'S OWN fact that all well casings fail eventually, 6%immediately, and 50% fail by 30 years. And that's the ones with modern casing technology. What about the undocumented ones before 1929? West Virginia has had 150 years of being a pincushion of vertical wells, and now you start poking two mile (and soon longer) horizontal holes, and many as possible -at WHATEVER depth- and filling them with over a trillion gallons of (btw) permanently poisoned water, at HIGH PRESSURE? And leaving it down there to eventually, inevitably, find a path to the aquifer? There are plenty of vertically oblique fissures down there to complete the path (it's how tectonics WORK, creating...mountains?) and the process even intentionally makes them more viable, even logically creating some of its own.

    Bad idea. Terminally bad.

    All of West Virginia will be going Elsipogtog Mi'kmaq "when the nosebleeds start."
    Babies and seniors first.

    • Ragweed

      You forgot to say that the sky is falling too.....

  • Penny Smith

    Good job West Virginia!