WVEC Weekly Round-Up

By Isabel Stellato and Lucia Valentine, WVEC Lobbyists

Crossover day is quickly approaching! Bills must make it out of their house of origin by Wednesday, February 28. Here’s what we are watching: 

Bills to Support:

SB 532 – The Orphaned Well Prevention Act 

We expect the Orphaned Well Prevention Act (OWPA), SB 532, to run in the Senate Energy, Industry, & Mining Committee on Tuesday. We will continue watching closely to ensure it passes out of committee and makes it to the Senate Floor before Crossover Day.

What you can do: If you haven’t done so already, contact your senators on the Energy, Industry, & Mining Committee and ask them to support SB 532 in its current form. 

HB 5624 – Surface Owners Rights

HB 5624, regarding surface owners’ rights, has not moved since last week’s update and continues to sit in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would make it easier for surface owners to find out who owns the minerals underneath their property in county records, track the sale and purchase of those minerals, or purchase them if they wish. 

What you can do: Contact House Judiciary Committee members and ask them to support HB 5624.

Bills to Oppose: 

West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization co-founder and lobbyist Dave McMahon speaks during the public hearing for HB 5018 on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. – Photo by Perry Bennett

HB 5018 – Community Air Monitoring Bill 

As HB 5018 sits in the Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee, we urge  legislators to vote against this bill. 

This bill asserts that data collected from purple air monitors cannot be used by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for regulatory or attainment purposes, which would have a chilling effect on citizen monitoring. 

What you can do: Urge the Senate Energy Committee to OPPOSE SB 5018!

HB 5076 – Loosening Well-Plugging Regulations

HB 5076 has not moved since last week’s update and continues to sit in the House Judiciary Committee. 

HB 5076 would loosen regulations on well plugging and prevent landowners from suing operators over abandoned unplugged wells. There are concerns that this bill would act as a legal shield for Diversified Energy Co., the nation’s largest owner/operator of gas and oil wells. Under the legislation, the company could take 480 years to plug its wells. 

What you can do: Urge the Senate Finance Committee to OPPOSE HB 5076!

SB 688 – Wildfire Management on Public Lands 

SB 688 passed the Senate this week and was introduced in the House with a reference to the House Government Organization Committee.

This bill opens up all WV public lands from wide-spread timbering and economic development for special-interest projects. It also permits secret, noncompetitive bid contracts from out-of-state interests to threaten the beauty and value of our public lands. We believe West Virginians know best how to protect our public lands.

What you can do: Urge the House Gov Org Committee to OPPOSE SB 688!

SB 618- Carbon Exchange Program 

SB 618 passed out of the Senate Government Organization Committee and is in the Senate Finance Committee. This bill would create a state program for the sale and purchase of carbon offset credits, allowing the Division of Forestry to control the program and implement rules and fees. This bill limits landowners’ rights, ability to manage their land, and access to competitive carbon markets. 

What you can do: Urge the Senate Finance Committee to OPPOSE SB 618! 

To contact us, email isabelrstellato@gmail.com or luciavalentine10@gmail.com

Thank you for all you do and for making your voice heard at the Capitol! We appreciate your support! Let us know if you can join us for a day of lobbying!

Updated: February 23, 2024 — 3:33 pm

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