(07/21/2001)
? What deep well drilling could mean to poor counties like Calhoun is a question being asked in the region, with few answers. Government often complies with complicated formulas, adjustments and taxation methods which eventually favor the large producers.

Calhoun County Assessor Jason Nettles said he is concerned about taxation rates in deep wells. "We just don't know what is going to happen with it."

Calhoun County has over thirty deep wells permitted, with two sites in the White Pine area already prepared.

Since there is little information regarding the long-term production of deep wells, the large corporations appear to be using that to their advantage. The taxation formula in West Virginia is, in part, based on the life expectancy of the well.

Roane County school's Finance Director, David Kinison, said the wells are taxed on profits which allow them to count expenses "everything remotely related to the well's production," before there is a figure upon which the business can be taxed.

He said the current formula is ten years old. It will be adjusted for deep well drilling, and most county commissioners and local officials fear it will not favor local interests.

Sources in the drilling industry are saying the industry may include the the cost of transmission line construction to take the gas out of West Virginia, in which case royalty owners or public services will suffer.

Unlike the state of Alaska, West Virginia has a history of catering to the energy corporations. Alaska took control of their resources, adequately taxing the companies and looking out for its citizens. Alaskans, for example, not only do not pay state income taxes, they get an annual "cash bonus" check from state government based on resources taken from the state.

Dominion Transmission is about to announce plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Cornwell Station in Kanawha County to Rockwell County in North Carolina. The 265 mile, 30 inch transmission line would feed natural gas to Virginia and the Carolinas from the state's deep well gas fields.

Information regarding the massive project was released at a recent Fayette County Commission member, after the commission was concerned the pipeline would run through Hawk's Nest State Park.

Roane County Assessor Emily Westfall has questioned the values the state is putting on deep wells and how they reflect market value.


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