Gov. Justice proposes special session on oil and gas severance taxes for PEIA

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) -- During a string of town hall meetings Monday, Governor Jim Justice proposed a special session to figure out a solution for mineral rights and severance taxes for things like natural gas, saying that the funds could help create a permanent fix to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

On Monday, Justice tweeted: "The gas companies want two things from you — co-tenancy and joint development ... I said to them, I won’t be a proponent of co-tenancy or joint development to help you without raising your severance tax. You know what they said? “We’re OK with that.”

"If you hold onto those two chips we can get the severance tax on gas raised. If you don’t, it will be close to impossible."

Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association issued the following statement in response to Justice's proposal.

“WVONGA is very concerned with the Governor’s statements regarding a severance tax increase and a possible veto of House Bill 4268, the co-tenancy bill.

Great progress has been made by stakeholders on this co-tenancy bill to ensure that investment in West Virginia by the oil and gas industry continues to boost the state’s economy and create family-sustaining jobs that support schools and teachers. His plans to disrupt that progress will hurt all of us, including our teachers, by keeping West Virginia's laws uncompetitive and discouraging development in this state.

The oil and gas industry has invested billions of dollars in West Virginia and has paid over $1.3 billion in property and severance taxes over the past five years alone. The current severance tax in West Virginia is higher than in Ohio and Pennsylvania and raising it even more will send a chilling message to companies investing in the state.”

Stay with 5 News for updates.