"And I do believe that oil and gas is a vehicle that can help take this state to a new level through the economic development of it," the Braxton County Democrat said. "I thank God every night for our coal and gas and timber, that he blessed our state. . . . People have to have jobs."
Facemire said the committee would use SB424 as a framework for next week's meetings. The legislation is a scaled-back version of an earlier measure, but Facemire said it still addresses issues such as notification to landowners, illegal dumping of fracking water and damage to state roads.
"We really tried to address a lot of the concerns that the people have," he said.
"You think the industry was tickled about a $100,000 fine?" he added, referring to penalties for companies that dump fracking water.
Corky DeMarco, head of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, said he couldn't respond to surface owners' legal plans because he doesn't know the details, but he said that, as lawmakers try again on the legislation, "we need certainty in this industry."
Because of the lack of state regulations, the city of Morgantown last month banned fracking.
"Are we going to be in a situation where every county has laws and every city in the county has laws?" DeMarco said. "That's not certainty. And people are not going to invest under those conditions."
Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, will serve as co-chairman of the committee. Manchin said the Senate bill is "not a bad framework from which to start," even though it's not as strong as what many delegates want.
"I think we're going to do something for surface owners," Manchin said. "Will it be as much as they would like? Will it go as far as the House would like to go? We might not get there."
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, who is acting as governor, has said a special session on Marcellus issues could come by August.
Manchin said he thinks September might be more realistic.
"It's hard to get consensus," he said, "but I think we have probably the best chance that I've seen since I've been in the Legislature to make some changes, to make some progress."
The first meeting this week is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, and the second at noon Wednesday. Both are scheduled for the Senate Judiciary room. The initial meeting will be an informational session featuring guest speakers.
A new group, called West Virginians for a Moratorium on Marcellus, plans a 10 a.m. rally at the Capitol on Monday.
Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.