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Gas law issue won't go to W.Va.'s high court yet

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- A federal judge has changed her mind about having the West Virginia Supreme Court answer a question on gas drilling laws that could have statewide implications.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley said the justices should rule conclusively on whether the law allows a gas drilling company to use Richard Cain's land to sink horizontal wells that would draw gas from neighboring tracts.

But last week, she issued an order saying that request was premature. That restarted the Marion County man's case and lets both sides put more facts into the record

Cain is suing Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy over its plans use the best of his land for as many as 18 well pads, leaving him with mostly steep, unusable hillsides.

XTO calls its plan "reasonably necessary."


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