Editorial | The Wheeling Intelligencer | January 11, 2016
Thousands of West Virginians who have seen gas wells drilled where they own the mineral rights have not yet received any of those big royalty checks they were promised. But don't
blame the energy companies. Uncle Sam is forcing them to sit on the gas.
Low energy prices have had something to do with the slowdown in drilling and production. But even at current rates, some companies would love to sell gas from their wells, if they could just get it to market
Without additional pipelines, including the big interstate ones that have to be cleared by the federal government, that cannot happen.
At least six big pipeline projects to carry local gas both east and south from West Virginia have been proposed. Companies already have filed final plans for some with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
But the FERC has not approved any of them. In fact, since President Barack Obama in 2014 appointed Norman Bay to head the agency, no new pipelines have been cleared.
It is true various issues, including routes, still must be resolved for some of the pipelines. Still, it is clear to some observers that the FERC is "slow walking" the permitting process.
Remember the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the United States? The Obama administration sat on that one, too - until killing it entirely last year. Is that the plan for gas pipelines serving our region?
Whether some ulterior motive or simple bureaucratic slothfulness is to blame, the FERC clearly does not view gas pipelines as a priority. Congress should demand it do so - because, clearly, Obama is unlikely to use one of his infamous executive orders to improve the situation.