H. B. 4637
(By Delegates Manypenny, Talbott and Brown)
[Introduced February 20, 2012; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §22-6A-12 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to prohibiting the drilling of horizontal oil and gas wells beneath abandoned wells; and prohibiting fracking within five hundred feet of an abandoned well.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §22-6A-12 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6A. NATURAL GAS HORIZONTAL WELL CONTROL ACT.
§22-6A-12. Well location restrictions; abandoned wells.
(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. Wells may not be drilled beneath an abandoned oil and gas well that has not been capped nor may fracking activities take place within five hundred feet laterally of an abandoned well. 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 well pad 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 the bill is to prohibit the drilling of horizontal oil and gas wells beneath abandoned wells. The bill also prohibits fracking within five hundred feet of an abandoned well.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.