The House of Delegates in a rare tie vote rejected so-called forced pooling legislation.
House Bill 2688, also referred to as lease integration, unitization or fair pooling, allows natural gas companies to drill on units where at least 80 percent of surrounding property owners have signed lease agreements. Supporters say the legislation will is needed as natural gas interests in West Virginia continue to expand, but opponents say it infringes on personal property rights.
Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritche, was the lead sponsor of the bill. He said he thought the bill would be close, but the 49-49 tie caught him off guard.
“You’re always surprised by a tie vote,” Ireland said. “I thought it might be 53-47, something like that. It wasn’t, so it is what it is.”
The roll call shows 21 Republicans and 28 Democrats voting against the legislation. Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock and leader of the Liberty Caucus, said his group worked to drum up opposition. The caucus opposes legislation that takes away personal freedoms, McGeehan said, no matter which party is behind the bill.
“Forced pooling, we saw as a gross violation of private property rights because it affects the entire state,” he said. “Thousands if not tens of thousands of West Virginia residents would be affected by that and forced to sell their mineral rights or their land rights for artificially low prices. Essentially it’s a form of legal plundering whereby a gas company can come in and take what is an individual’s natural right to property. We wanted to be sure we defeated that because we want to advance the cause of liberty, but sometimes there are harmful, detrimental policies we need to play defense on to protect the people of West Virginia.”
Todd, I apparently have offended you. My sincere apologies. I have no excuse other than I am in territory about which I have no knowledge and my naïve trust has been trampled on in my life time. My husband says no one should be involved with these messaging boards as too often misinterpretations happen. I think I was involved with such a misunderstanding. Again, I apologize. In retrospect, I believe your motives were honest and meant in a helpful manner. Please forgive me and I hope you will again correspond with me.
I just sent you a message----I hope !! First time I have done that. Let me know if you don't receive it. Thanks, b