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Justice signs law intended to boost natural gas drilling

March 10, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice has signed a new law to allow drilling for natural gas beneath West Virginia property where 75 percent of owners of its royalty interests agree.

It takes effect July 1.

Under current law, a single co-owner can block drilling, though a developer can sue to partition the property and proceed.

Supporters say the change enables a supermajority of a property’s owners to make money from the state’s large underground gas reserves and will increase tax revenues while providing an economic boost.

Critics argued that it strips property rights from minority owners.

Under the law, they would be guaranteed a share of the highest royalty or a share in the producer’s revenues and costs as an investor.

Justice says it will allow for development while protecting owner rights.

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