Justice Vetoes 15 Bills for 'Technical' Reasons, Two Related to Natural Gas Industry

Mar 29, 2019

Governor Jim Justice released justifications Friday for 15 bills passed by the West Virginia Legislature that he vetoed due to technical errors, including two that would have impacted the state's natural gas industry.

According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, technical issues that could have garnered vetoes included bills that contained language that created laws that would have contradicted or eliminated other laws, overly-broad language or bills with titles that were not descriptive of its contents.

"I am working with the Legislature to fix the technical errors and get these bills added to the Special Session call," Justice said in a press release. "If this happens, and the Legislature passes the bills during Special Session, I will have an opportunity to sign them in time for them to take effect on July 1."

Two bills vetoed for technical reasons were priorities of natural gas trade groups in West Virginia.

House Bill 2673 would have halved severance tax paid by oil and gas producers with wells producing up to 60,000 cubic feet of gas and low-producing oil wells.

Revenues from the tax would be placed into a fund to clean up the state’s more than 4,500 orphan wells.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mac Warner, Justice said while the goal of plugging orphan wells was laudable, it should be paid for by revenue from the current severance tax, not by cutting it for some drillers.

The governor also vetoed House Bill 2661. The bill would have allowed natural gas utilities to lobby the Public Service Commission to approve incentives for drilling in places where natural gas service isn’t currently available. The bill also allowed those utilities to recover costs if the PSC decided gas is no longer the cheapest option in the area.

Justice said the bill was flawed because its title did not accurately reflect its contents.

You can read letters Justice sent to Warner on each vetoed bill here.