"If a well is 625 feet away from a residence, you will not be able to sleep at night," he said of drilling that initially goes on day and night at well sites.
Both Garvin and McMahon had hoped that legislators would spend the special session strengthening the select committee bill, a proposal they believe does not have sufficient safeguards for landowners, or to protect the state's groundwater supply.
However, McMahon noted, "When we saw the governor's bill, we think it's much worse."
Conversely, industry representatives objected to the bill's high fees and tougher regulations, but in the words of the Oil and Gas Association's Corky DeMarco, said they could "grin and bear it."
He said West Virginia's 5 percent severance tax on natural gas puts it at a disadvantage with Marcellus states of Ohio, with a 7/10th of one percent tax, and Pennsylvania, with no severance tax, and that the industry would be the first in the state to be hit with a 1,400-percent increase in permit fees, from about $400 a well to $10,000 for the first well and $5,000 for subsequent wells.
However, he said the primary issue for industry is regulatory stability.
"We don't want to read about Marcellus every day on every front page of every paper in the state," DeMarco said in support of the governor's bill. "It gives us a set of rules to operate by, and it gives the public confidence so we don't get beat up."
Phil Reale, representing the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, agreed that the industry's first objective is stability -- particularly with opportunities such as multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker plants on the horizon.
"When you look down the road, you're seeing tens of thousands of jobs, you're not seeing thousands of jobs," he said of the potential manufacturing spin-offs from a cracker plant.
"It's probably a pretty good indication that not everyone is happy with what's contained in this bill," Reale said. "While nothing's perfect, this represents the opportunity for the industry to move forward."
During the House public hearing, the Independent Oil and Gas Association made a show of support, lining the chamber with dozens of members wearing association T-shirts.
At the hearing, speakers supporting the bill -- mainly those in the oil and gas industry or representing manufacturers -- alternated with those who believe the bill is inadequate to protect the environment or landowners' rights.
"This governor's Marcellus bill is a Christmas gift to drillers," said Gary Zuckett with the West Virginia Citizen Action Group. "We're not against jobs in the gas fields. We want to see a strong, thought-out bill so we don't make the same mistakes as we did with coal."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.