The commission is charged with completing its report on West Virginia oil and gas workers

WV Governor Creates Oil & Gas Safety Commission

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's Executive Order No. 5-15 says the number and severity of personal injuries to workers in the oil and gas industry have increased as fracking and horizontal drilling practices have become more prevalent.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has issued an executive order that establishes the West Virginia Commission on Oil and Natural Gas Industry Safety, and his office identifies the commission's inaugural members. The new commission will be chaired by the governor or his designee and includes the secretaries of the state departments of Environmental Protection, Commerce, Transportation, and Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Tomblin's Executive Order No. 5-15 says the number and severity of personal injuries to workers in the oil and gas industry have increased as fracking and horizontal drilling practices have become more prevalent. It says, "in view of this increasing number and severity of personal injuries, it is appropriate to review and assess the effectiveness of the federal and state laws and regulations associated with workplace safety in the oil and gas industry in West Virginia," including those promulgated by OSHA, EPA, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the West Virginia Office of Oil and Gas.

"As we continue to explore opportunities to diversify our state's energy portfolio, we must ensure the safety of hardworking West Virginians at drilling sites, production facilities and pipelines across the state," Tomblin said July 8. "This commission will help us determine how to best protect workers at natural gas operations while ensuring our workers have the proper training and skills to do their jobs in the safest, most effective way possible."

The order says the commission is to issue a final report by Nov. 16, 2015.

Its members include 10 industry and labor representatives and four legislators:

  • Mary S. Friend, representative of the Public Service Commission
  • Thomas Raught, representative with experience in federal OSHA regulations
  • Chris Flanagan, representative with experience in oil and natural gas drilling and production
  • Benjamin A. Hardesty, representative with experience in oil and natural gas drilling and production
  • Bob Orndorff, representative with experience in oil or natural gas pipelines
  • Shawn Patterson, representative with experience in oil or natural gas pipelines
  • Mike McCown, representative of an independent oil and natural gas producer
  • Allen Nelson, representative of labor
  • Letha Haas, representative of labor
  • Bryan Christian, representative of the trucking industry
  • State Sen. Jack Yost, representing Brooke, Hancock, Ohio, and part of Marshall counties (ex-officio)
  • State Sen. Jeff Mullins, who chairs the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee and represents Raleigh County, Wyoming County, and part of McDowell County (ex-officio)
  • Delegate Lynwood "Woody" Ireland, who chairs the House of Delegates Energy Committtee and represents Ritchie County and part of Pleasants County (ex-officio)
  • Delegate Patsy Trecost, representing Harrison and part of Taylor counties (ex-officio)

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