(08/22/2007)
By Bob Weaver

The West Virginia legislature has decided not to address Gov. Joe Manchin's bill which would essentially allow gas producers to charge production costs against royalty payments.

The bill will return during next year's regular session.

House and Senate members called the bill too complicated to consider in a three-day special session.

State Senator Donna Boley said "It never went anywhere in the Senate," with most of the House and Senate leadership rejecting Manchin's call to "clarify" the law.

Manchin's Communications Director Lara Ramsburg "The good news here is that we've been able to make progress. We've been able to start a discussion."

Spencer attorney Orton Jones told the hearing the bill was "lipstick on a pig," which brought a laugh in the chamber.

Creston resident Alvin Engelke went to the "Mouth of the Elk" and referred to the measure as "Chesapeake's Relief Bill."

A Chesapeake Energy lawyer said the Roane County $404 million jury decision against gas producers was "a lottery for trial lawyers."

Governor Joe Manchin says a proposed bill addressing natural gas rights would clear up questions about how property owner royalties are determined in the future in West Virginia.

The Governor minimized the impact on WV royalty owners, with opponents contending it would negatively impact every royalty holder.

Manchin says the natural gas industry is important to West Virginia and he says the proposal lawmakers are now considering would be one promoting transparency, including what the costs are for getting natural gas to market.

Vernon Goff, son-in-law of the late Garrison Tawney, who initiated the suit against gas producers, said "All you gotta do is look at the check royalty holders are getting. It's the final rip-off."

READ 8-20-2007 GOV MANCHIN'S ROYALTY BILL MORE THAN TWEAKING - The Baby Goes Out With Bathwater


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