By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee sent a bill to the full Senate Tuesday afternoon that would establish a $2,500 fee for modifications of well work permits issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas, a move that would erase some but not all of the office’s million-dollar shortfall.
Led in sponsorship by Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, committee chairman, with three Democrats and one Republican as fellow sponsors, Senate Bill 404 is identical to a bill that stalled in last year’s legislative session. There is still no fee for oil and gas well permit modification applications.
James Martin, chief of the Office of Oil and Gas, told the committee that his office faces a $1.3 million deficit even at reduced staffing levels as its main revenue pipeline, permit fees, has dried up amid oil and gas industry struggles.
Martin estimated that the bill, if enacted, would provide an additional $500,000 to $600,000 annually for the Office of Oil and Gas based on recent averages of 200 to 250 modifications per year…