The West Virginia Home of Delegates overwhelmingly handed a invoice Wednesday to ascertain a price for modifications of well-work permits issued by the state Division of Environmental Safety.
The invoice, Senate Invoice 404, handed the Senate with out opposition final week. The invoice would erase some, however not all, of the million-dollar shortfall at the moment dealing with the Division of Environmental Safety’s Workplace of Oil and Gasoline.
Handed by the Home in a 77-22 vote, Senate Invoice 404 would set up a $2,500 price for modifications of well-work permits. There may be at the moment no price for oil- or gas-well allow modification purposes. Division of Environmental Safety Deputy Secretary Scott Mandirola famous to the Home Power and Manufacturing Committee, which superior the invoice final week after its Senate passage, that every one different DEP allowing applications, together with mining, air and water, have charges related to modifications.
Mandirola estimated the invoice, if enacted, would offer a further $500,000 yearly for the Workplace of Oil and Gasoline based mostly on current averages of 200 modifications per yr.
The Workplace of Oil and Gasoline wants $1.3 million simply to fund staffing ranges that it slashed final yr as its predominant income pipeline, allow charges, dried up amid oil and fuel trade struggles.
“Whereas this invoice will get us a part of the best way to the place we have to get, it’s not going to get us all the best way to the place we have to get,” Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, stated on the Home ground Wednesday previous to the vote on the invoice.
The Workplace of Oil and Gasoline is all the way down to 10 inspectors answerable for 75,000 wells. Final yr, the workplace resolved to get rid of 14 of about 39 positions, saving round $1.1 million.
Mandirola stated the DEP has checked out different choices to boost the opposite roughly half of its shortfall, together with a request for extra normal income and annual charges per-well for nicely operators.
“I hope that along with passing this invoice, we are able to discover different methods to boost the income that’s required to completely fund the inspectors on the Workplace of Oil and Gasoline,” Hansen stated.
Delegate Invoice Anderson, R-Wooden, chair of the Home Power and Manufacturing Committee, agreed with Hansen, calling the invoice a “starting salvo” to financially assist the workplace.
“It’s not what they should keep the inspection program that I want to see,” Anderson stated.
A invoice sponsored by Hansen, that has been pending since Feb. 24 within the power committee chaired by Anderson, would introduce an annual $100 nicely oversight price. The invoice has not but made it onto a committee assembly agenda.
Dave McMahon, co-founder of the West Virginia Floor House owners’ Rights Group and advocate for higher oversight of oil and fuel wells throughout the state, has lobbied for an annual $100 nicely oversight price. He estimated such a price would increase $6 million — sufficient to bolster the Workplace of Oil and Gasoline and go away some cash for addressing deserted and orphaned wells.
An similar model of SB 404 additionally handed the Senate with out opposition in final yr’s session as Senate Invoice 840 earlier than stalling within the Home Finance Committee.