Gas royalties bill stirs up controversy in WV

By Scott Finn  

A bill that could reduce natural gas royalties for landowners is stirring up controversy at the West Virginia Legislature. 

House Bill 216 would do two things: It would do away with a tax exemption for coal-bed methane gas. And it would change how gas companies pay royalties to landowners. 

It stems from a $404 million verdict in Roane County that landowners won against Chesapeake Energy, parent company of Columbia Natural Resources. A jury found that the company defrauded landowners out of their royalties, and a judge agreed. 

Gov. Joe Manchin’s bill wouldn’t affect that verdict, but it would affect other landowners in similar situations. Lawmakers are saying the bill is so complex, they might not have time to pass it in a special session.  

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