HB 3110 passed the House of Delegates unanimously to provide more funding to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WV DEP) Office of Oil and Gas for well inspections! The bill now heads to the Senate Finance committee.
Currently, the WV DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas only has ten inspectors responsible for over 75,000 wells. This bill would double the funding for this office and increase inspector numbers from 10 to around 20. This bill also allocates 0.75% of the O&G severance tax to the Office of Oil and Gas and adds annual fees depending on the amount produced and the class of wells.
While this is an excellent first step to addressing the inspector crisis, we are advocating for a fully funded DEP budget that would allow West Virginia an adequate number of inspectors per well. With 20 inspectors, West Virginia would still have around 4,200 wells per inspector, putting it far behind neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, with 1,730 and 2,240 wells per inspector, respectively.
Without these inspectors, these wells pose a risk to both our public health and our environment.
A 2018 Princeton and McGill university study showed that active conventional wells across West Virginia leak methane. The release of methane, which traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over 20 years, contributes to accelerating climate change and exacerbates the risks of significant floods and power outages in West Virginia. In addition, the release of methane is accompanied by other air pollutants that can cause cancer, asthma, and premature birth.
We urge you to contact the Senate Finance Committee. Calls are most effective! The message: Support HB 3110 with a fully funded DEP budget for more inspectors to help ensure proper enforcement of regulations and safeguard public health.