(05/29/2018)
The national natural gas foxes have gotten into the hen house in Charleston spending millions with lobbying, but they are playing coy for the right moment to convince the West Virginia legislators that West Virginia royalty owners should give them a good deal, after a century of taking royalty owners to the cleaners, and the state needs to give them an even greater tax break.

While eliminating the state's small oil and gas producers, we're looking at a second century of getting taken to cleaners.

West Virginia has given its all to coal, gas, oil, and timber, and being left with just $1.98.

West Virginia, now led by Republicans, have joined a century of Democrat leaders, who have plead, "We need this compliance for development or be left behind to create jobs."

While the Tawney case win seemed like a big win for West Virginians, we previously wrote that "Garrison Tawney would now be rolling in his grave."

It appears most WV voters don't mind bending over, there is lttle outrage.

- Bob Weaver

By Thorn Roberts, Longtime Gas/Oil Advocate

I think that the current suit by EQT against Austin Caperton as head of the WVDEP, combined with Bray Cary's ascension to the position of virtual acting Governor, is a call to action for the rest of us who do not simply want to see the State stolen.

The whole Marcellus play and all the major players in it in raise a host of serious issues. But EQT is the ringleader of everything wrong. They are virtually buying all three branches of State government.

Bray Cary is too smart and too well informed not to know what he is doing.

The lawsuit EQT has filed, under the existing circumstances, is going to be simply a friendly lawsuit.

It is a set-up.

It is not only there to get rid of the 1982 permitting legislation as later amended; it is there to get rid of all serious responsibility to the royalty owners, including not only what was established by the Tawney case but all previous concepts of operator responsibility to the royalty owners.

The overall objective is to reduce these payments to the status of "allocated" gratuities with the objective of getting rid of them altogether.

To understand fully why EQT wants this requires understanding that the oil and gas companies, including those with utility roots, are not purely operating companies as in the past. In fact they are part of "daisy chain" vertical trusts which involve aspects of outright financial institutional ownership and management, forbidden by Federal banking law in the past.

They attempt to apply bankruptcy law procedures to their dealings in order to reduce parties in conflict with them to bankruptcy status in fact.

In short, their objectives are predatory and it is impossible to do business with them. In order to accomplish this, they are trying to get rid of Constitutional protections, especially jury trial rights in favor of no-tort arbitration law.

The Tawney case brought this question to a head.

The issues the EQT situation is posing do not just concern royalty owners. The related issue of severance taxes, from something as large as the Marcellus play, involve the State's ability to pay its bills and in particular to pay State employees a living wage and to fund State insurance and retirement funds.

Allowing these monopolist operators to establish they can "allocate" what they pay with no real accounting is incompatible with these objectives.

The State will continue on its way to bankruptcy.

I know that the big issue involved in fighting the EQT case is money.

There is probably no easy way top resolve this. But if the present situation continues, the path will be clear for EQT and its bought and paid for friends in State government to carry out what is a massive scheme to defraud the State.

But they need to be confronted in this on the legal field by someone filing an inter- pleader.


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