CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Wednesday he hopes his administration will be able to adjust draft legislation for regulation of Marcellus Shale drilling in time for a special session in mid-December.
But a leader of the legislative committee that put the bill together thinks Tomblin's "tweaks" would gut the bill.
Tomblin said Wednesday that the state Department of Environmental Protection "is looking at the recommendations. There will be a few tweaks to the bill the subcommittee has recommended," said Tomblin, referring to a House/Senate select committee that approved a draft bill on Nov. 16, following months of meetings on the issue.
"Hopefully, we'll get an agreement, and will be able to call a special session to coincide with the December interims," he said.
Monthly legislative interim meetings are scheduled for Dec. 12-14.
Among the changes Tomblin said he would like to see in the bill would be to move certain regulations that are currently written into the bill, such as standards for gas well casings, to a legislative rule-making review process.
"The way technology is changing ... more of these decisions should be left to DEP," he said.
Typically, regulatory legislation sets out broad goals and guidelines, but leaves the specifics for writing and enforcing the regulations to the particular agency, subject to the Legislature's rule-making review process.
However, Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, co-chairman of the select committee, said having minimum standards set in state law is the core of the proposed legislation.
"To have these minimum regulations in there, or minimum guideline standards, will do a lot to alleviate the fears of our people about this industry, and improve the industry's standing to the public," Manchin said.