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State Senate Backs Change for Gas-Drilling Rights

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West Virginia's Senate has voted to authorize natural gas producers to drill when three-fourths of those with royalty rights agree and a reasonable effort has been made to negotiate with the remaining owners of a gas mineral property.

The bill, approved 19-14, is a priority of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. The group says it updates the law to reflect current technology with horizontal drilling and the state poised for major gas development.

It's opposed by the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, which says it enables out-of-state gas producers to effectively take mineral owners' property for the benefit of shareholders.

Sen. Charles Trump, a Morgan County Republican who supports the legislation, says lawmakers heard from many royalty owners who've leased rights and want the bill passed.

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