Unfinished business Legislators should protect landowners, not drillers
The Senate should undo a House wrong, while protecting both the public and the oil and gas industry.
This can be done by amending House Bill 458, now a sellout to the drillers, to require statewide safeguards for property owners.
Nothing in state law protects landowners from damage when the industry builds "gathering" lines, which move gas from wellheads to pipelines.
Spurred by rising prices, gas companies have drilled into water mains, violated weight limits, cut new roads through private property without permission and filled streams with boulders, according to complaints from Pike and Letcher counties.
But when Letcher County began considering its own ordinance to curb abuses, the industry swooped down with a bill that would block local governments from enacting any such regulations.
The industry says it can't play by a different set of rules in every county. But only one of 120 counties is even talking about a local ordinance, and that's because state law offers no protection.
The House approved this industry-authored measure 64-26 after hearing an oration praising it from Majority Leader Greg Stumbo, whose campaign for attorney general already has received at least $3,500 from owners of Eastern Kentucky's largest drilling company.
County governments have more than enough demands without having to fill gaps left by the state. Letcher County wouldn't be talking about regulating the oil and gas industry if there were adequate state protections.
If the Senate can't fix this attack on local control, it should kill it.