Government, WVPA Sharing

Lobbyists offer updates on the natural gas industry, legislation

By Erica Young

West Virginia Press Association Capitol Reporter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three oil and gas representatives gathered at the West Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Breakfast on Thursday to talk about the current state of the industry.


Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA)​;​Charlie Burd, executive director of IOGA WV​; and ​David McMahon, a lobbyist for oil and gas surface owners​, spoke on the business panel.

Blankenship ​spoke about the benefits West Virginia is seeing from the taxes on natural gas production, noting that such a tax surplus allowed the state to help fund the teachers’ pay raises.

Video​ ​of the WV Press Association Legislative Breakfast featured below and at

Burd​ ​talked about the numbers, noting the state of West Virginia saw almost $130 million in severance taxes in 2018 and another $88 million in property taxes.Both Burd and Blankenship mentioned the industry’s efforts to help improve road conditions in West Virginia.

Burd explained that while there are no laws requiring the natural gas companies to fix “secondary roads,” the industry signed a guidance document in 2010 with the Department of Transportation to help with them, adding we (the industry) do more than we have to do.”
McMahon​ ​addressed a different issue: Legislation addressing the capping of orphan wells, which he called the biggest issue facing West Virginia this year. McMahon said there are currently thousands of orphan wells (and at least 10,000 more are predicted by 2049) and the state doesn’t have the money to plug them.

McMahon said gas wells get older and production falls off. At a certain point, he said, the well’s owner can’t afford to plug the well. Adding to that issue, McMahon said, is the practice of companies keeping older, non-producing wells open to maintain the older lease payment levels when newer wells are drilling. Larger drilling companies also will sell their older, less producing wells to smaller companies.  With less money generated, the wells are never being properly plugged, McMahon said.

Wheeling News-Register Editor Mike Myer said roads are a major topic of discussion and concern in the Northern Panhandle, adding that gas trucks and school buses are now traveling at the same time, which was not an industry practice in past years.
Burd and Blankenship both said they would reach out to member companies to warn again such route timing.

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