(1) The advent and advancement of new and existing technologies and drilling practices have created the opportunity for the efficient development of natural gas contained in underground shales and other geologic formations;
(2) These practices have resulted in a new type and scale of natural gas development that utilize horizontal drilling techniques, allow the development of multiple wells from a single surface location, and may involve fracturing processes that use and produce large amounts of water;
(3) In some instances these practices may require the construction of large impoundments or pits for the storage of water or wastewater;
(4) Existing laws and regulations developed for conventional oil and gas operations do not adequately address these new technologies and practices;
(5) The secretary should have broad authority to condition the issuance of well work permits when, in the secretary's discretion, it is necessary to protect the safety of persons, to prevent inadequate or ineffective erosion and sediment control plans, to prevent damage to publicly owned lands or resources, to protect fresh water sources or supplies or to otherwise protect the environment;
(6) Concomitant with the broad powers to condition the issuance of well work permits, the secretary should also have broad authority to waive certain minimum requirements of this article when, in his or her discretion, such waiver is appropriate: Provided, That the secretary shall submit a written report of the number of waivers granted to the Legislature commencing January 1, 2013, and each year thereafter;
(7) Practices involving reuse of water in the fracturing and stimulating of horizontal wells should be considered and encouraged by the department, as appropriate; and
(8) Allowing the responsible development of our state's natural gas resources will enhance the economy of our state and the quality of life for our citizens while assuring the long term protection of the environment.
(b) The Legislature declares that the establishment of a new regulatory scheme to address new and advanced natural gas development technologies and drilling practices is in the public interest and should be done in a manner that protects the environment and our economy for current and future generations.
(c) The Legislature declares that in view of the urgent need
for prompt decision of matters submitted to the secretary under
this article, all actions which the secretary or oil and gas
inspectors are required to take under this article shall be taken
as rapidly as practicable, consistent with adequate consideration
of the issues involved.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
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