Geoff Foster is a West Virginia delegate for House District 15, which covers part of Putnam county. In his last campaign, he received thousands from the energy sector, including a thousand from gas and oil corporations, lobbyist PACs, and lawyers who represent the industry. He has a history of voting for Forced Pooling legislation, and this year he sponsored HB 4268– the newest Forced Pooling attack on property owners and their rights.
Geoff can be reached at his home number of (304) 561-4229, his Capitol number of (304) 340-3121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He needs to hear from West Virginians that Forced Pooling is theft.
Contact Delegate Foster and tell him West Virginians don’t appreciate his attempts to give large out-of-state gas and oil corporations the right to steal from us. Sponsoring Forced Pooling legislation is an attack on property owners.
Delegate Foster sponsored HB 4268– 2018’s version of Forced Pooling. Foster is not alone in this vicious attack on property owners; Delegate Bill Anderson is the lead sponsor, and Delegates Kelly, Zatezalo, Westfall, Fast, Higginbotham, Atkinson, Hollen, Ward, and Lane are cosponsors. All of these legislators are fighting hard to deliver exactly what out-of-state gas and oil companies want—the right to force West Virginians to give up their property rights.
Gas lobbyists have already admitted that Cotenancy is just the newest spin on Forced Pooling. Even industry publications have referred to it as “Forced Pooling Lite”. The Swamp Dwellers seem to be making an appeal for “Majority” rights, but this is just a distraction tactic. The fact is that the majority of consenting co-tenants in a would-be unit for development are already protected. Currently, they are within their rights to take a deal, negotiate for the best price, and let big out-of-state gas and oil companies develop on their property.
This bill would allow companies to force non-consenting property owners in a tract to give up their rights against their will. If the consenting co-tenants owning 75% of the rights in a tract make a bad deal, the owners of the other 25% would be forced to accept the same deal… Even if they wanted to hold out for a better price. Even if they never wanted their property developed in the first place.
The owners of that 75% of the property are completely protected in their right to strike bargains with gas and oil developers. What they shouldn’t be allowed to do is help gas and oil companies steal their neighbor’s property. This bill claims to “protect” these greedy folks, but what it actually does is force the minority owners to submit to the tyranny of the majority
HB 4268 would allow out-of-state gas and oil companies to force property owners to give up their rights without their consent.
That’s not protection, that’s Majority-Rules Theft. That’s Forced Pooling, Geoff.
HB 4268 passed a 14-10 vote in the House Energy Committee and is currently being considered by the House Judiciary Committee. Geoff Foster is a member of House Judiciary.
HB 2688: Petroleum Forced Pooling (2015)
In 2015, Foster voted YES on two occasions for HB 2688– a petroleum forced pooling bill. This forced pooling bill would have allowed oil companies to steal from non-consenting property owners as long as they had consent from landowners that owned at least 80 percent of the net acreage of a horizontal well unit. Foster voted twice to allow petroleum drilling without consent of all property owners—a yes vote when HB 2688 passed the House initially, and a yes vote during the failed concurrence vote.