CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Marcellus Shale drillers would have to place horizontal wells 1,000 feet from West Virginians' homes and water wells, under legislation endorsed by a House of Delegates committee Wednesday.
Current law allows drillers to place wells within 200 feet of people's homes and water wells. Advocates for surface owners say that has led to major disruption for homeowners.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee replaced a number of provisions in Senate-passed legislation (SB424) to regulate natural gas drilling.
The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee, which is scheduled to take it up this morning.
"We're really pleased," said Julie Archer, lobbyist for the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization. "We're just hoping that the Senate will agree to accepting the House changes."
The House and Senate would have to work out an agreement between the two versions of the bill by Saturday, when the legislative session ends.
Dave McMahon of the surface owners group said he was disappointed with what he called "a delay tactic" on the House floor Wednesday evening.
After endorsing the bill Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee had recommended that it go straight to the floor.
Delegate Sam Cann, D-Harrison, objected to that, and the bill will now go to the House Finance Committee.
Corky DeMarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, did not return messages seeking comment on the House Judiciary Committee's changes to the bill.