(By Delegates Douglas, Kuhn, Angotti, Azinger, Butcher, Caputo, Hatfield, Louisos, Manchin, Marshall, Mattaliano, Modesitt, Overington, Perdue, Prunty, Stalnaker, Tucker, White, and Willison)

[Originating in the Committee on Government Organization]

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to conduct a study of property and mineral rights governing the drilling of deep wells for oil and natural gas underlying lands in West Virginia.

Whereas, The Legislature and the citizens of West Virginia are charged with prudent stewardship of the state's natural resources; and

Whereas, Oil and natural gas have been produced in West Virginia for more than a century, necessitating the need for disturbance of the surface of the land for the production of minerals; and

Whereas, The laws of the state of West Virginia require, as a prerequisite to drilling a deep well for oil or natural gas, that the operator obtain a consent and easement from the owner of the surface, but due to conflicting case law which has been decided since the passage of the statutory provisions, controversy has arisen as to the precise circumstances under which the easement requirement applies; and

Whereas, Controversy has arisen as to the degree of discretion which may be exercised by the board in regulating the spacing of permitted deep wells; and

Whereas, The Legislature needs accurate information regarding modern deep well drilling technology, trends and practices in order to make informed decisions regarding legislation affecting our natural resources and the property of the citizens of the state of West Virginia; Virginia; therefore, be it

Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the regulation of oil and gas deep well drilling and its effects on property of the citizens of the state of West Virginia, with specific emphasis on the following areas of inquiry:

(a) Whether the state board has developed procedures which correspond to the law and respond to concerns and needs of operators and surface owners in approving deep well drilling sites; and

(b) Whether state laws correspond to current deep well drilling technology and to the correlative rights of the owners of the surface and the minerals underlying the land, and whether the laws should be revised; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2001, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together
with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.