(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss, and Delegate Ashley)

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the impediments to the leasing and production of coal, oil, gas and other mineral substances, resulting from divided ownership of such resources.

Whereas, The ownership of the individual tracts of coal, oil, gas and other mineral resources of the State of West Virginia are frequently divided among many persons, business entities, trusts, estates in probate and other legal entities as "cotenants"; and
Whereas, These divided ownership interests are frequently very small and can include dozens of individual owners the number of which increases with time by reason of the further division among the heirs of such interests upon death of the owner; and
Whereas, The common law of West Virginia requires the consent of each and every owner for the leasing and production and, frequently, for other regulatory and mineral management decisions which are essential to the production of such minerals and the lack of consent or cooperation among such cotenants, and those who are unknown or cannot be located, is increasingly an impediment to the production of coal, oil, gas and other minerals in West Virginia; and
Whereas, Numerous other states, by either their common law or the enactment of "cotenants" legislation, have authorized the approval of mineral leases and other management decisions by less than the entire ownership interests in order to ameliorate the adverse effects upon mineral production of such divided ownership interests; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to review, examine and study the effects of divided ownership interests in coal, oil, gas and other minerals in this State upon production and management thereof, the ways and means to eliminate or ameliorate any adverse effects of such divided ownership upon management and production of said minerals, and to make recommendations to the Legislature or propose legislation regarding the same; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the said study committee report to the Legislature, by December 1, 1998, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations.