Two legislators who have investments in the industry, both of whom lost re-election bids last year, argued against the tougher regulations Monday.
Delegate Mike Ross, D-Randolph, contended that tougher state regulations would drive national companies out-of-state to access the Marcellus shale field from Pennsylvania, New York or Ohio.
"I think it will discourage a lot of them," said Ross, who said the state is already at a competitive disadvantage with Pennsylvania, which has no severance tax on natural gas.
"They're doing twice the work in Pennsylvania that they're doing in West Virginia," he said.
Added Sen. Frank Deem, R-Wood, "We need to be very careful to not get so far out that we stop this fracking process. If you do, you're going to completely shut down the oil and gas industry."
Deem successfully amended the draft bill to remove all provisions regarding "pooling," which would require drillers to compensate nearby landowners for natural gas reserves drained from their properties as part of the horizontal drilling process.
That amendment prompted Caputo to have the bill advanced to the Legislature without recommendation for its passage.
"Let's keep this bill moving," he said, calling for all interested parties to continue working during the legislative session to try to come up with a workable compromise.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.