(12/14/2007)
Following a large protest, West Virginia regulators have rejected a natural gas producer's proposal to drill as many as 35 new wells at Chief Logan State Park.

Extractors have been attempting to drill in other state preserves, based on their purchasing of the mineral rights.

The Department of Environmental Protection says state law prohibits the exploitation of minerals in any state park for commercial purposes.

Cabot Oil and Gas had sought five permits to drill new wells at Chief Logan, one of the state's most used parks.

The Houston-based company said they conveyed much of the land used to create the park, with the deed keeping the gas rights with the owners, who have leased them to Cabot.

Cabot vice president and Eastern Region manager Tom Liberatore says the company is disappointed,

Cabot could ask the courts to either allow its access to the leased gas or require the state to compensate it for the lost revenue.

During the past several years, extractors have been seeking access to the state's national parks and forest preserves, and have at times been granted permission by the Bush administration.

Conservation and environmental groups have slowed those movements down.

Meanwhile, the DEP is considering the elimination of 150 more of the state's waterways from protection to allow mountaintop removal, largely objected to by Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups.

The plan is endorsed by Gov. Manchin.


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