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WV mineral owners to fight forced pooling bills

BECKLEY, W.Va. — While state lawmakers are preparing for the upcoming legislative session and the agenda bills they plan to pass, other groups in the state are already playing defense — preparing for opposition to those core bills.

One of those is forced pooling. Forced pooling would compel mineral rights owners to pool their natural gas resources if a certain percentage of their neighbors have agreed to be in the pool. In essence the law would supersede mineral rights owners’ control over their natural resources.

 Last year’s forced pooling bill died on the last night of the legislative session when an rare-if-ever tie vote caused the bill to fail in the House of Delegates. Lawmakers studied the issue during interim sessions, changing the concept’s name from forced pooling to “lease integration.”

The Southern West Virginia Mineral Owners Coalition met just before Christmas to formalize opposition to the 2016 bill, which is likely high on the legislative leadership’s agenda for the next session after the bill’s failure in the last one.

“The industry should not have the right to forcibly take property from private landowners,” said Basil Keaton, a mineral and surface owner from Raleigh County. “I do not want to sell the minerals on my land and want my children and grandchildren to have the same rights to our land as I do today…


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