H. B. 4362
(By Delegates Manypenny, Staggers, Sigler,
Frazier, Talbott, Longstreth, Doyle, Walker,
Shaver and Rowan)
[Introduced January 31, 2012; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §22-6-6 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §22-6A-12 of said code, all relating to requiring the center of all new gas wells to be more than one thousand feet from water wells or six hundred twenty-five feet from the edge of the well pad to water wells, whichever is further.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §22-6-6 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §22-6A-12 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6. OFFICE OF OIL AND GAS; OIL AND GAS WELLS; ADMINISTRATION; ENFORCEMENT.
§22-6-6. Permit required for well work; distance from water wells and dwellings; permit fee; application; soil erosion control plan.
(a) (1) It is unlawful for any person to commence any well work, including site preparation work which involves any disturbance of land, without first securing from the director a well work permit. An application may propose and a permit may approve two or more activities defined as well work.
(2) All new natural gas wells shall be no less than one thousand feet from the well’s center to a water well or dwelling or six hundred twenty-five feet from the gas well pad edge to the water well or dwelling, whichever is further.
(b) The application for a well work permit shall be accompanied by applicable bond as prescribed by section twelve, fourteen or twenty-three of this article, and the applicable plat required by section twelve or fourteen of this article.
(c) Every permit application filed under this section shall be verified and shall contain the following:
(1) The names and addresses of: (i) The well operator; (ii) the agent required to be designated under subsection (e) of this section; and (iii) every person whom the applicant must notify under any section of this article together with a certification and evidence that a copy of the application and all other required documentation has been delivered to all such persons;
(2) The name and address of every coal operator operating coal seams under the tract of land on which the well is or may be located, and the coal seam owner of record and lessee of record required to be given notice by section twelve, if any, if said owner or lessee is not yet operating said coal seams;
(3) The number of the well or such other identification as the director may require;
(4) The type of well;
(5) The well work for which a permit is requested;
(6) The approximate depth to which the well is to be drilled or deepened, or the actual depth if the well has been drilled;
(7) Any permit application fee required by law;
(8) If the proposed well work will require casing or tubing to be set, the entire casing program for the well, including the size of each string of pipe, the starting point and depth to which each string is to be set, and the extent to which each such string is to be cemented;
(9) If the proposed well work is to convert an oil well or a combination well or to drill a new well for the purpose of introducing pressure for the recovery of oil as provided in section twenty-five of this article, specifications in accordance with the data requirements of section fourteen of this article;
(10) If the proposed well work is to plug or replug the well: (i) Specifications in accordance with the data requirements of section twenty-three of this article; (ii) a copy of all logs in the operator's possession as the director may require; and (iii) a work order showing in detail the proposed manner of plugging or unplugging the well, in order that a representative of the director and any interested persons may be present when the work is done. In the event of an application to drill, redrill or deepen a well, if the well work is unsuccessful so that the well must be plugged and abandoned, and if the well is one on which the well work has been continuously progressing pursuant to a permit, the operator may proceed to plug the well as soon as the operator has obtained the verbal permission of the director or the director's designated representative to plug and abandon the well, except that the operator shall make reasonable effort to notify as soon as practicable the surface owner and the coal owner, if any, of the land at the well location, and shall also timely file the plugging affidavit required by section twenty-three of this article;
(11) If the proposed well work is to stimulate an oil or gas well, specifications in accordance with the data requirements of section thirteen of this article;
(12) The erosion and sediment control plan required under subsection (d) of this section for applications for permits to drill; and
(13) Any other relevant information which the director may require by rule.
(d) An erosion and sediment control plan shall accompany each application for a well work permit except for a well work permit to plug or replug any well. Such plan shall contain methods of stabilization and drainage, including a map of the project area indicating the amount of acreage disturbed. The erosion and sediment control plan shall meet the minimum requirements of the West Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Manual as adopted and from time to time amended by the division, in consultation with the several soil conservation districts pursuant to the control program established in this state through section 208 of the federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (33 U.S.C. §1288). The erosion and sediment control plan shall become part of the terms and conditions of a well work permit, except for a well work permit to plug or replug any well, which is issued and the provisions of the plan shall be carried out where applicable in the operation. The erosion and sediment control plan shall set out the proposed method of reclamation which shall comply with the requirements of section thirty of this article.
(e) The well operator named in such application shall designate the name and address of an agent for such operator who shall be the attorney-in-fact for the operator and who shall be a resident of the State of West Virginia upon whom notices, orders or other communications issued pursuant to this article or article eleven, chapter twenty-two, may be served, and upon whom process may be served. Every well operator required to designate an agent under this section shall within five days after the termination of such designation notify the director of such termination and designate a new agent.
(f) The well owner or operator shall install the permit number as issued by the director in a legible and permanent manner to the well upon completion of any permitted work. The dimensions, specifications and manner of installation shall be in accordance with the rules of the director.
(g) The director may waive the requirements of this section and sections nine, ten and eleven of this article in any emergency situation, if the director deems such action necessary. In such case the director may issue an emergency permit which would be effective for not more than thirty days, but which would be subject to reissuance by the director.
(h) The director shall deny the issuance of a permit if the director determines that the applicant has committed a substantial violation of a previously issued permit, including the erosion and sediment control plan, or a substantial violation of one or more of the rules promulgated hereunder, and has failed to abate or seek review of the violation within the time prescribed by the director pursuant to the provisions of sections three and four of this article and the rules promulgated hereunder, which time may not be unreasonable: Provided, That in the event that the director does find that a substantial violation has occurred and that the operator has failed to abate or seek review of the violation in the time prescribed, the director may suspend the permit on which said violation exists, after which suspension the operator shall forthwith cease all well work being conducted under the permit: Provided, however, That the director may reinstate the permit without further notice, at which time the well work may be continued. The director shall make written findings of any such determination and may enforce the same in the circuit courts of this state and the operator may appeal such suspension pursuant to the provisions of section forty of this article. The director shall make a written finding of any such determination.
(i) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or be imprisoned confined in the county jail not more than twelve months, or both fined and imprisoned confined.
ARTICLE 6A. NATURAL GAS HORIZONTAL WELL CONTROL ACT.
§22-6A-12. Well location restrictions.
(a) Wells may not be drilled within two hundred fifty feet measured horizontally from any existing water well or developed spring used for human or domestic animal consumption. All new gas wells shall be no less than one thousand feet from the well’s center to a water well or a developed spring used for human or domestic animal consumption or six hundred twenty-five feet from the gas well pad edge to the water well or developed spring used for human or domestic animal consumption, whichever is further. The center of well pads may not be located within six hundred twenty-five feet of an occupied dwelling structure, or a building two thousand five hundred square feet or larger used to house or shelter dairy cattle or poultry husbandry. This limitation is applicable to those wells, developed springs, dwellings or agricultural buildings that existed on the date a notice to the surface owner of planned entry for surveying or staking as provided in section ten of this article or a notice of intent to drill a horizontal well as provided in subsection (b), section sixteen of this article was provided, whichever occurs first, and to any dwelling under construction prior to that date. This limitation may be waived by written consent of the surface owner transmitted to the department and recorded in the real property records maintained by the clerk of the county commission for the county in which such property is located. Furthermore, the well operator may be granted a variance by the secretary from these distance restrictions upon submission of a plan which identifies the sufficient measures, facilities or practices to be employed during well site construction, drilling and operations. The variance, if granted, shall include terms and conditions the department requires to ensure the safety and protection of affected persons and property. The terms and conditions may include insurance, bonding and indemnification, as well as technical requirements.
(b) No well pad may be prepared or well drilled within one hundred feet measured horizontally from any perennial stream, natural or artificial lake, pond or reservoir, or a wetland, or within three hundred feet of a naturally reproducing trout stream. No wellpad may be located within one thousand feet of a surface or ground water intake of a public water supply. The distance from the public water supply as identified by the department shall be measured as follows:
(1) For a surface water intake on a lake or reservoir, the distance shall be measured from the boundary of the lake or reservoir.
(2) For a surface water intake on a flowing stream, the distance shall be measured from a semicircular radius extending upstream of the surface water intake.
(3) For a groundwater source, the distance shall be measured from the wellhead or spring. The department may, in its discretion, waive these distance restrictions upon submission of a plan identifying sufficient measures, facilities or practices to be employed during well site construction, drilling and operations to protect the waters of the state. A waiver, if granted, shall impose any permit conditions as the secretary considers necessary.
(c) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, nothing contained in this section prevents an operator from conducting the activities permitted or authorized by a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit or other approval from the United States Army Corps of Engineers within any waters of the state or within the restricted areas referenced in this section.
(d) The well location restrictions set forth in this section shall not apply to any well on a multiple well pad if at least one of the wells was permitted or has an application pending prior to the effective date of this article.
(e) The secretary shall, by December 31, 2012, report to the Legislature on the noise, light, dust and volatile organic compounds generated by the drilling of horizontal wells as they relate to the well location restrictions regarding occupied dwelling structures pursuant to this section. Upon a finding, if any, by the secretary that the well location restrictions regarding occupied dwelling structures are inadequate or otherwise require alteration to address the items examined in the study required by this subsection, the secretary shall have the authority to propose for promulgation legislative rules establishing guidelines and procedures regarding reasonable levels of noise, light, dust and volatile organic compounds relating to drilling horizontal wells, including reasonable means of mitigating such factors, if necessary.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the center of all new gas wells to be more than one thousand feet from water wells or developed springs used for human or domestic animal consumption or six hundred twenty-five feet from the edge of the well pad to water wells or developed springs used for human or domestic animal consumption, whichever is further.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.