As West Virginia legislature prepares to adjourn, resident warns of dangers to property rights
By John Cobb
There are several currently proposed bills in the West Virginia Legislature now that could seriously hurt our rights as property owners:
Senate bill 508 would destroy a more than 200-year-old law that allows citizens the right to file “Nuisance Suits” against neighbors or companies who harm their property values or their right to the pursuit of happiness on their property. This bill is currently in the House Judiciary committee. While it is not expected to pass, it is essential to keep pressure on House members.
Would Senate Bill 596 would allow gas and pipeline companies to come onto private property to survey your land for pipelines which may not even be in the public interest. This is actually legalizing trespassing. Though dead for now after a defeat in the Senate, voters should be aware of who supported this as they prepare to vote this year.
Senate bill 601 would forces West Virginia Landfill authorities to take drill cuttings from Marcellus Wells which may include contaminated waste and radioactive materials that could pose risks to our aquifers and water supplies. Good water is every West Virginian’s God-given right. It is presently under consideration in the House.
None of these bills should be amended! They are wrong in any possible form.
None of these Senate Bills should come to the full Legislative floor for a vote.
All these Bills should be killed/stopped – NOW!
These Senate Bills seem to be totally for the benefit of the Marcellus Drilling and Pipeline companies and are putting our property rights, values, lives and peace of mind at risk. The out-of-state companies will be gone in ten years, but many of our property rights could be gone forever. It’s time to act to get involved!
Our Senators will not be representing “the majority” of their constituents if they sponsor or support or vote for these Senate bills!
Please watch closely how your elected representatives vote in this session of the Legislature. It is important that they vote for our property rights.
It just does not seem to stop. Governor Tomblin asked the West Virginia Senate to Pass Senate bill 419. This bill would eliminate some of the revenue derived from the state severance tax on oil and gas extraction by 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas (along with a fee on coal extraction).
Call me thunderstruck, but this tax revenue cut comes at a time when our state has a shortfall of over $350 million in the budget.
Yes, the fee was originally to be used to pay down the state’s old workers’ compensation debts and Tomblin had promised that once the debt was paid, the fee would be lifted.
Guess what. Our state senators have unanimously passed Senate bill 419 and it is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. If signed, we will lose this potential tax revenue source that could help us fix our state’s budget. So I ask you, “Who is working to fix our budget”?
Finally, we need to kill any bill that supports forced pooling.
Two such bill are SB646 and HB 4639 which support forced pooling. These bills will allow drilling under a surface owner’s property without their consent and without benefit to the surface owner. These are the worst forced pooling bills ever. Last year the legislature tried to pass a forced pooling bill and it failed because it is an unfair concept and an unfair law.
I thought this was the year that our infrastructure was to have been top priority. What happened?
Our roads and bridges need repair and improvement. We need new roads. We still need to get good water to the thousands of folks who are on spring or well water. Yes, many families are still in need of reliable city water. So many people today in our state are still living as third world citizens.
So ask your representative why they are working so hard on taking away more of our rights.
There has never been a more important time to watch what is going on in Charleston!
There is still time to contact your elected officials. So take action now to protect your property rights.
These bills are taking away people’s rights and it is unfair to take away the legal system from ordinary citizens.
You can check a bill’s status at: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/ and you can also find your legislator by clicking on Senate or Delegate and then Member to get the phone number or email address to contact your representative.
You can make a positive impact. Take the time to protect your property rights now.
The West Virginia Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday.
© John Cobb, 2016. Mr. Cobb writes from his farm in Ireland, W.Va.
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