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Wrangling continues on state gas-drilling question

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- A judge is giving an Exxon Mobil subsidiary and a Marion County man suing it two more weeks to propose language for a question the West Virginia Supreme Court will consider.

U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley wanted the language Monday but has extended the deadline to Friday.

Keeley wants the justices to rule conclusively on whether state law allows a gas-drilling company to use Richard Cain's land to sink horizontal wells that would draw gas from neighboring tracts.

She says his case against XTO Energy could have far-reaching legal and economic implications.

Cain says XTO plans to use the best of his land for as many as 18 well pads, leaving him with mostly steep, unusable hillsides.

XTO denies doing anything illegal and calls its plan "reasonably necessary."


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