CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An industry lobbyist says the only way to fix a problem created by a new state law is to change the law.
Phil Reale with the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA) said Tuesday on MetroNews Talkline lawmakers made a mistake by including all above ground storage tanks in the state when creating a new registration and inspection program following the chemical leak/water emergency that impacted parts of nine counties.
“I think the only iron clad solution that doesn’t leave a lot of question marks in the minds of people is to change the law,” Reale said.
He added the legislature got caught up in the growing sentiment to do something about storage tanks because the Freedom Industries tank in Charleston leaked MCHM into the Elk River.
“I understand the compulsion to act and the state needed to act although I have to say to you this circumstance doesn’t have universal application to every industry in the state,” Reale said.
There are thousands of smaller storage tanks, some filled with oil, others with salt brine, that are located at small vertical well sites. The owners say the provisions of the new law will prove expensive. Reale said the small independent tank owners are trying to decide what to do.
“Some will change (comply with the law) if the economics of the well will justify it. There’s a number who have looked at bankruptcy provisions to see if they are covered or not,” Reale said.
House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley is calling for a change in the law while state Senate President Jeff Kessler wants to see some proposals first on how the smaller tanks would be exempted. He said duplication doesn’t make sense.
Reale said lawmakers were bent on doing something after the water emergency.
“I can say there was a certain amount of almost hysteria within the public eye and the media’s attention to the circumstances,” he said, adding the legislature needs to now decide whether all tanks should be treated the same to find out “whether or not it’s necessary, whether or not there’s a cost to benefit ratio that would justify this.”