Senate passes oil, natural gas drilling bill

West Virginia passed the 4.25 billion dollar budget on Friday.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill to allow drilling for oil and natural gas beneath property where 75 percent of owners of its royalty interests agree.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported the measure passed 23-11 Saturday.

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

Sen. Michael Romano was among lawmakers voting against the bill. He said it would make it too easy for big companies to take property and make a profit.

Supporters say the bill enables a supermajority of a property's owners to make money from West Virginia's underground gas reserves and would give the state more tax revenues.

Delegate Bill Anderson, the bill's lead sponsor, says he's optimistic that Gov. Jim Justice will sign it into law.

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