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Introduced Version Senate Bill 272 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted
Senate Bill No. 272

(By Senators Ross, Dittmar, Helmick, Sharpe,

Wehrle, Yoder, Holliday, Humphreys, Withers and Craigo)

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[Introduced February 4, 1994; referred to the Committee
on Energy, Industry and Mining and then to the Committee

on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend chapter twenty-two of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article seven-a, relating to public policy concerning coalbed methane wells and units; declaration of public policy; legislative findings; definitions; application of article, exclusions, application of chapter twenty-two-b; chief powers and duties; additional duties of the shallow gas well review board-meetings, notice, powers and duties; permit required for coalbed methane well, permit fee, application, soil erosion control plan, criminal penalties, review of application; issuance of permit in absence of objections, copy of permits to county assessor; authorization to stimulate, alternative procedures in the absence of authorization; protective devices-when a coalbed methane well penetrates a workable coalbed or coalbed from which coal has been removed; performance bonds, corporate or other surety; notice to owners; procedure for
filing comments; objections to coalbed methane wells by coal owner or operator, hearings; review board hearing, findings, order; drilling units and pooling of interests, notice to owners, review of application, hearing, pooling order, spacing, escrow account, operator, elections, working interests, royalty interests, carried interests, conflicting claims, division ordering operation or drilling units; validity of unit agreements; spacing; conversion of wells and ventholes; dry or abandoned wells; plugging and reclamation of well, notice, objection, plugging order; judicial review, appeal to supreme court of appeals; legal representation for board; limitation on actions in trespass; injuctive relief; civil and criminal penalties; and construction.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That chapter twenty-two of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article seven-a, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 7A. COALBED METHANE WELLS AND UNITS.

§22-7A-1. Declaration of public policy; legislative findings.

(a) (1) The Legislature hereby determines and finds that the venting of coalbed methane from mine areas and degasification of coal seams has been and continues to be approved by the state for the purpose of ensuring the safe recovery of coal; that commercial recovery and marketing of coalbed methane should insome cases be facilitated because the energy needs of this state and the United States indicate that the fullest practical recovery of both coal and coalbed methane should be encouraged; that the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 was enacted in part to encourage coalbed methane development and the state of West Virginia should enact legislation consistent with the provisions of said act; that in order to encourage and ensure the fullest practical recovery of coal and coalbed methane in this state and to further ensure the safe recovery of both natural resources, it is in the public interest to enact this article authorizing coalbed methane well permits, regulating the design of coalbed methane wells and recovery techniques, authorizing coalbed methane well units and pooling of interests therein to provide all coalbed methane operators and coalbed methane royalty owners with an opportunity to recover their just and equitable share of production.
(2) The Legislature further determines and finds that it is necessary to declare that the expeditious removal of coalbed methane gas from coalbeds, as permitted under the pooling provisions of this article, shall not constitute a trespass upon the rights of any person claiming an interest in gas or coal found in any coalbed; and that coalbed methane gas vented at any time under this article or otherwise as provided by this code, in order to protect coal property and the health and safety of human life, or for lack of a market for recovered coalbed methane gas, shall be lawful and shall not constitute waste of coalbed methanegas.
(b) It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this state and in the public interest to:
(1) Facilitate the expeditious, safe evacuation of coalbed methane from the coalbeds of this state, and maintain the ability of coal operators at all times to vent coalbed methane from mine areas;
(2) Foster, encourage and promote the commercial development of this state's coalbed methane by establishing procedures for issuing permits and forming drilling units for coalbed methane wells without materially affecting the mineability of coal seams or the safety of mining;
(3) Safeguard, protect and enforce the correlative rights of coalbed methane well operators and coalbed methane royalty owners in a pool of coalbed methane to the end that each such operator and royalty owner may obtain his or her just and equitable share of production from coalbed methane recovered and marketed under this article;
(4) Safeguard and protect the mineability of coal found in workable coal seams during the removal of coalbed methane, as permitted under this article; and
(5) Create a state permitting procedure and authority to encourage coalbed methane development consistent with the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992;
§22-7A-2. Definitions.

Unless the context in which used clearly requires adifferent meaning, as used in this article:
(a) "Review board" or "board" means the West Virginia shallow gas well review board provided for in article seven of this chapter;
(b) "Coalbed" or "coal seam" means a seam of coal, whether workable or unworkable, and the noncoal roof and floor of said seam of coal;
(c) "Coalbed methane" means occluded natural gas found in and produced from a coalbed;
(d) "Coalbed methane royalty owner" means any owner of coalbed methane in place;
(e) "Coalbed methane well" means any shaft, hole or well sunk, drilled, bored or dug into the earth for the extraction of coalbed methane, including a gob well. The term "coalbed methane well" does not include any shaft, hole or well sunk, drilled, bored or dug into the earth for core drilling, production of water, venting gas from a mine area, or degasification of a coal seam:
Provided, That, vent holes or degasification holes which capture coalbed methane for sale or consumption shall be treated as coalbed methane wells pursuant to this article.
(f) "Coalbed methane well operator" or "operator" means any person who has the right to operate or does operate a coalbed methane well;
(g) "Coal operator" means any person who proposes to or does operate a coal mine;
(h) "Coal owner" means any person who owns or leases a coalseam;
(i) "Chief" means the chief of the office of oil and gas of the division of environmental protection provided in section eleven, article one of this chapter;
(j) "Director" means the director of the division of environmental protection;
(k) "Division" means the division of environmental protection provided in section seven, article one of this chapter;
(l) "Gob well" means a well drilled or vent hole converted to a well pursuant to this article which produces or is capable of producing coalbed methane and other natural gas from a destressed zone created above and below a mined-out coal seam by any prior full seam extraction of the coal;
(m) "Office" means office of oil and gas;
(n) "Person" means any natural person, corporation, firm, partnership, partnership association, venture, receiver, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, fiduciary, other representative of any kind, any recognized legal entity, or political subdivision or agency thereof;
(o) "Stimulate" means any action taken to increase the natural flow of coalbed methane in a coalbed or the inherent productivity of a coalbed methane well from a coalbed, including, but not limited to, fracturing, shooting or acidizing but excluding cleaning out, bailing or workover operations;
(p) "Waste" means (i) physical waste as the term isgenerally understood in the gas industry; (ii) the locating, drilling, equipping, operating, producing or transporting of coalbed methane in a manner that causes or tends to cause a substantial reduction in the quantity of coalbed methane recoverable from a pool under prudent and proper operations, or that causes or tends to cause a substantial or unnecessary or excessive surface loss of coalbed methane; (iii) the drilling of more wells than are reasonably required to recover efficiently and economically the maximum amount of coalbed methane from a pool; or (iv) substantially inefficient, excessive or improper use, or the substantially unnecessary dissipation of reservoir pressure. Waste does not include coalbed methane vented or released from any mine area, the degasification of a coal seam for the purpose of mining coal, the venting of adulterated coalbed methane containing inert gases or the plugging of coalbed methane wells or the conversion of such wells to vent holes for the purpose of mining coal; and
(q) "Workable coalbed" or "workable coal seam" means any seam of coal thirty inches or more in thickness, unless a seam of lesser thickness is being commercially worked or can in the judgment of the division forseeably be commercially worked and will require protection if coalbed methane wells are drilled into or through it.
§22-7A-3. Application of article; exclusions; application of chapter twenty-two-b.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section,the provisions of this article shall apply to all lands located in this state, under which a coalbed as defined in section two of this article is located, however owned, including any lands owned or administered by any government or any agency or subdivision thereof, over which the state has jurisdiction under its police power. Except as set out in subsection (c) of this section, the provisions of this article are in addition to and not in derogation of or substitution for the provisions of this chapter or chapters twenty-two-a and twenty-two-b of this code;
(b) This article does not apply to or affect any well otherwise permitted, approved or regulated under article seven of this chapter or chapter twenty-two-b of this code, or any coal mining apparatus utilized for the purpose of venting coalbed methane gas from workable coal seams under chapter twenty-two-a of this code; or subsurface boreholes drilled from the mine face of an underground mine;
(c) Coalbed methane wells shall be treated as wells and coalbed methane treated as natural gas for purposes of and subject to the following sections of article one of chapter twenty-two-b of this code:
(1) The provisions of section three pertaining to the findings and orders of inspectors concerning violations; determination of reasonable time for abatement; extensions of time for abatement; special inspections, notice of findings and orders;
(2) The provisions of section four providing for the reviewof findings and orders by the chief; special inspection; annulment, revision of order; notice;
(3) The provisions of section five providing for the requirements of findings, orders and notices; posting of findings and orders; judicial review of final orders of chief;
(4) The provisions of section twenty-two providing for a well log to be filed; contents; authority to promulgate regulations;
(5) The provisions of section twenty-seven providing for a cause of action due to an explosion;
(6) The provisions of section twenty-eight providing for supervision by chief over drilling and reclamation operation; complaint; hearings; appeals;
(7) The provisions of section twenty-nine providing for special reclamation funds; fees;
(8) The provisions of section thirty providing for reclamation requirements;
(9) The provisions of section thirty-one providing for preventing waste of gas; plan of operation required for wasting gas in process of producing oil; rejection thereof;
(10) The provisions of section thirty-two providing for the right of adjacent owner or operator to prevent waste of gas; recovery of costs;
(11) The provisions of section thirty-three providing for restraining waste;
(12) The provisions of section thirty-four providing foroffenses; penalties;
(13) The provisions of section thirty-five providing for civil action for contamination or deprivation of freshwater source or supply; presumption;
(14) The provisions of section thirty-six providing for declaration of notice by owners and lessees of coal seams and setting out the form of such declaration; and
(15) The provisions of section thirty-nine providing for injunctive relief.
In addition to the foregoing and subject to the same qualifications, the provisions of article five of chapter twenty- two-b apply to coalbed methane wells.
§22-7A-4. Chief -- Powers and duties generally.

(a) The chief of the office of oil and gas shall issue permits and otherwise supervise the execution and enforcement of the provisions of this article, all subject to the review and approval of the director.
(b) The chief of the office of oil and gas shall enact rules necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article, subject to the review and approval by the director.
(c) In addition to all other powers and duties conferred upon the chief, the chief shall:
(1) Perform all duties which are expressly imposed upon him by the provisions of this article, as well as duties assigned to him by the director;
(2) Perform all duties as the permit issuing authority forthe state in all matters pertaining to the exploration, development, production, and recovery of coalbed methane in accordance with the provisions of this article;
(3) Perform such acts as may be necessary or appropriate to secure to this state the benefits of federal legislation by establishing programs relating to the exploration, development, production, and recovery of coalbed methane, which programs are assumable by the state;
(4) Visit and inspect any coalbed methane well or well site and call for the assistance of any oil and gas inspectors or other employees of the division of oil and gas in the enforcement of the provisions of this article;
(5) Collect the permit application fee for the drilling of a coalbed methane well;
(6) Collect the permit application fee for a drilling unit.
§22-7A-5. Additional duties of the shallow gas well review board - meetings; notice, powers and duties generally.

(a) The board shall meet and hold conferences and hearings at such times and places as are designated by the chairman. The chairman may call a meeting of the board at any time. The chairman shall call a meeting of the board (1) upon receipt from the chief of a completed application for a permit to establish one or more coalbed methane gas drilling units pursuant to this article, (2) upon receipt from the chief of a request pursuant to section eight of this article or comments or objections pursuant to sections twelve and thirteen of this article, or (3) withintwenty days upon the written request by another member of the board. Notice of all meetings shall be given to each member of the board by the chairman at least ten days in advance thereof, unless otherwise agreed by the members.
(b) At least ten days prior to every meeting of the board called pursuant to the provisions of this section, the chairman shall also notify the applicant, all persons to whom copies of the application were required to be mailed pursuant to the provisions of section seventeen of this article and all persons who filed written protests or objections with the board in accordance with the provisions of section eleven of this article.
(c) A majority of the members of the board constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business. A majority of the members of the board is required to determine any issue brought before it.
(d) The board shall execute and carry out, administer and enforce the provisions of this article in the manner provided herein. Subject to the provisions of section three of this article, the board has jurisdiction and authority over all persons and property necessary therefor: Provided, That the provisions of this article does not grant to the board authority or power to fix prices of coalbed methane gas.
(e) The board may:
(1) Take evidence and issue orders concerning applications for drilling permits and coalbed methane gas drilling units in accordance with the provisions of this article;
(2) Promulgate, pursuant to the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, and enforce reasonable rules necessary to govern the practice and procedure before the board;
(3) Make such relevant investigations of records and facilities as it deems proper; and
(4) Issue subpoenas for the attendance of and sworn testimony by witnesses and subpoenas duces tecum for the production of any books, records, maps, charts, diagrams and other pertinent documents in its own name or at the request of any party pursuant to article five, chapter twenty-nine-a.
§22-7A-6. Permit required for coalbed methane well; permit fee; application; soil erosion control plan; penalties.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to commence, operate, deepen or stimulate any coalbed methane well, to conduct any horizontal drilling for the purpose of production of coalbed methane, or to convert any existing well, vent hole or other hole to a coalbed methane well, including in any case site preparation work which involves any disturbance of land, without first securing from the chief a permit pursuant to this article.
(b) Every permit application filed under this section shall be verified and shall contain the following:
(1) The names and addresses of (i) the well operator, (ii) the agent required to be designated under subsection (e) of this section, and (iii) every person or entity whom the applicant must notify under any section of this article;
(2) Except for an application to drill or convert aventilation hole to a gob well the name and address of each coal operator and each coal owner of record or providing a record declaration of notice pursuant to section thirty-six, article one, chapter twenty-two-b of any coal seam which is (i) penetrated by, (ii) within seven hundred fifty horizontal feet of the proposed well, or (iii) within one hundred vertical feet of the designated completion coal seams of the proposed well;
(3) The well name or such other identification as the chief may require;
(4) The approximate depth to which the well is to be drilled, deepened or converted, the coal seams (stating the depth and thickness of each seam) in which the well will be completed for production, and any other coal seams (including the depth and thickness of each seam) which will be penetrated by the well or in the case of a gob well a description of the destressed zone;
(5) A description of any stimulation or other means to be used for obtaining or enhancing production from the well;
(6) If the proposed well will require casing or tubing to be set, the entire casing program for the well, including the size of each string of pipe, the starting point and depth to which each string is to be set, and the extent to which each such string is to be cemented;
(7) If the proposed operation is to convert an existing well, as defined in section one, article one, chapter twenty-two- b of this code, or to convert a vertical ventilation hole to a coalbed methane well, all information prescribed by this section,all formations from which production is anticipated, and any plans to plug any portion of the well;
(8) Except for a gob well or vent hole proposed to be converted to a well, if the proposed coalbed methane well will be completed in some but not all coal seams for production, a plan and design for the well which will protect all workable coal seams which will be penetrated by the well in accordance with section nine of this article;
(9) If the proposed operations will include horizontal drilling from the surface, a description of such operations, including both the vertical and horizontal alignment and extent of the well from the surface to total depth;
(10) Any other relevant information which the chief may require by rule.
(c) Each application for a coalbed methane well permit shall be accompanied by the following:
(1) The applicable bond prescribed by section seven of this article;
(2) A permit application fee of two hundred fifty dollars;
(3) The erosion and sediment control plan required under subsection (d) of this section;
(4) The authorization of the coal owner, other documentation or request and affidavit as required by section eight of this article;
(5) A plat prepared by a licensed land surveyor or registered engineer showing the district and county in which thedrill site is located, the name of the surface owner of the drill site tract, the acreage of the same, the names of the surface owners of adjacent tracts, the names of all coal owners underlying the drill site tract, the proposed or actual location of the well determined by a survey, the courses and distances of such location from two permanent points or landmarks on the tract, the number to be given the coalbed methane well, the proposed date for completion of drilling, the proposed date for any stimulation of the well, and if horizontal drilling is proposed, the vertical and horizontal alignment and extent of the well: Provided, That the chief by rule may waive any of the requirements of this subdivision (5) in the case of an application to convert an existing ventilation hole to a well; and
(6) A certificate by the applicant that the notice requirements of section eleven of this article have been satisfied by the applicant. Such certification may be by affidavit of personal service, or the return receipt card, or other postal receipt, for certified mailing.
(d) An erosion and sediment control plan shall accompany each application for a permit. Such plan shall contain methods of stabilization and drainage, including a map of the project area indicating the amount of acreage disturbed. The erosion and sediment control plan shall meet the minimum requirements of the West Virginia erosion and sediment control manual as adopted and from time to time amended by the office of oil and gas inconsultation with the several soil conservation districts pursuant to the control program established in this state through section 208 of the federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. The erosion and sediment control plan shall become part of the terms and conditions of a permit and the provisions of the plan shall be carried out where applicable in operations under the permit. The erosion and sediment control plan shall set out the proposed method of reclamation which shall comply with the requirements of section thirty, article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code.
For the purpose of ascertaining whether or not issuance of any permit will cause or contribute to a pollution problem, the chief shall consult with the director of the division of natural resources.
(e) The well operator named in the application shall designate the name and address of an agent for the operator who shall be the attorney-in-fact for the operator and who shall be a resident of the state of West Virginia, upon whom notices, orders or other communications issued pursuant to this article or article five-a, chapter twenty, may be served, and upon whom process may be served. Every well operator required to designate an agent under this section shall within five days after the termination of such designation notify the division of such termination and designate a new agent.
(f) The well owner or operator shall install the permit number as issued by the chief in a legible and permanent mannerto the well upon completion of any permitted work. The dimensions, specifications and manner of installation shall be in accordance with the rules of the chief.
(g) The chief shall deny the issuance of a permit if he determines that the applicant has committed a substantial violation of a previously issued permit, including the erosion and sediment control plan, or a substantial violation of one or more of the rules promulgated hereunder, and has failed to abate or seek review of the violation. In the event that the chief finds that a substantial violation has occurred with respect to existing operations and that the operator has failed to abate or seek review of the violation in the time prescribed, he may suspend the permit on which said violation exists, after which suspension the operator shall forthwith cease all work being conducted under the permit until the chief reinstates the permit, at which time the work may be continued. The chief shall make written findings of any such determination made by him and may enforce the same in the circuit courts of this state and the operator may appeal such suspension pursuant to the provisions of section seventeen of this article. The chief shall make a written finding of any such determination.
(h) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or be imprisoned in the county jail not more than twelve months, or both fined and imprisoned.
§22-7A-7. Review of application; issuance of permit in the absence of objections; copy of permits to county assessor.

The chief shall review each application for a well work permit and shall determine whether or not to issue a permit.
No permit may be issued less than fifteen days after the filing date of the application for any well work except plugging or replugging a dry hole: Provided, That if the applicant certifies that all persons entitled to notice of the application under the provisions of this article have been served in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested, with a copy of the well work application, including the erosion and sediment control plan, if required, and the plat required by section six of this article, and further files written statements of no objection by all such persons, the chief may issue the well work permit at any time.
The chief may cause such inspections to be made of the proposed well work location as to assure adequate review of the application. The permit shall not be issued, or shall be conditioned including conditions with respect to the location of the well and access roads prior to issuance if the chief determines that:
(a) The proposed well work will constitute a hazard to the safety of persons;
(b) The plan for soil erosion and sediment control is not adequate or effective;
(c) Damage would occur to publicly owned lands or resources;or
(d) The proposed well work fails to protect fresh water sources or supplies.
The chief shall promptly review all comments filed. If after review of the application and all comments received, the application for a well work permit is approved, and no timely objection or comment has been filed with the chief or made to the chief under the provisions of sections eight, twelve or thirteen of this article, the permit shall be issued, with conditions, if any.
The chief shall mail a copy of the permit as issued or a copy of the order denying a permit to any person who submitted comments or objections to the chief concerning said permit and requested such copy.
Upon the issuance of any permit pursuant to the provisions of this article, the chief shall transmit a copy of such permit to the office of the assessor for the county in which the well is located.
§22-7A-8. Authorization to stimulate; alternative procedures in the absence of authorization.

(a) Except for a permit to drill or convert a gob well as defined in this article, no permit may be issued for a coalbed methane well until the chief is provided one of the following:
(1) A verified statement submitted with the application that all coalbeds in which the applicant proposes to complete the well for production are less than thirty inches in thickness and aretherefore not workable coal beds and that no workable coalbed lies within one hundred vertical feet above or below the proposed zones of completion.
(2) A verified statement that the application proposes to complete the well without the use of stimulation;
(3) A signed authorization from the coal owner or operator of each workable coal seam which is located within seven hundred fifty horizontal feet of the proposed well location or within one hundred vertical feet of the coalbed or beds which the application proposes to stimulate;
(4) Copies of leases, farmout agreements, operating agreements or other instruments of title, or other contractual agreements, based upon which the applicant states he or she has the right to stimulate the target coal seam.
(b) The chief shall by rule promulgate standards for stimulation of coal seams in a manner designed to permit subsequent safe recovery of the coal. Stimulation standards may be established for specifically identified coal seams but shall in no event be less stringent than the following:
(1) Fluid injection rates shall not exceed fifteen barrels per minute per foot of coal in the seam;
(2) Injection pressure, excluding friction pressure shall not exceed three thousand five hundred pounds per square inch;
(3) The volume of fluid injected shall not exceed a total of twenty thousand gallons of fluid per foot of coal in the seam;
(4) Propping agent shall not exceed one hundred thousandpounds of sand per treatment;
(5) Only approved materials and agents shall be used.
(c) In lieu of the requirements of subsection (a) of this section or the request for a hearing prescribed in subsection (d) of this section an operator may submit a verified statement that the proposed plan of stimulation as submitted in the permit application does not exceed the standards set by the chief for the target coal seams identified in the permit application.
(d) In the absence of the applicant submitting the documentation or the verified statement described in subsection (a) above, the operator may submit a request for hearing before the board accompanied by an affidavit which shall include the following:
(1) A statement that a coal owner or operator has refused to provide written authorization to stimulate the well;
(2) A statement detailing the efforts undertaken to obtain such authorization;
(3) A statement setting out any known reasons for the authorization not being provided;
(4) A statement or other information in addition to that provided pursuant to subdivision (5), subsection (b) of section six of this article necessary to provide prima facie evidence that the proposed method of stimulation will not render the coal seam unworkable, or considering all factors, impair mine safety.
(e) Upon receipt of a request and affidavit as set forth in subsection (b) of this section the chief shall forward theapplication to the board to consider the proposed stimulation or if other objections or notices are filed requiring a hearing before the board the request hereunder may be included for consideration by the board along with such other matters related to the application.
(f) If the authorization of a coal owner or operator has been withheld based upon reasons related to safety the chief shall, concurrent with submission of the request and affidavit to the board, submit a copy of the application to the director of the office of mine health and safety who shall review the application as to issues of mine safety and within thirty days submit recommendations to the board.
§22-7A-9. Protective devices--when a coalbed methane well penetrates workable coal bed; when a coalbed methane well is drilled through horizon of coal bed from which coal has been removed.

(a) Except for those coalbeds which the coalbed methane operator proposes to complete for production of coalbed methane or where a ventilation hole is being converted to a well, when a well penetrates one or more workable coal beds, the well operator shall run and cement a string of casing in the hole through the workable coalbed or beds in such a manner as will exclude all oil, gas or gas pressure as may be found in such coalbed or beds. Such string of casing shall be circulated and cemented in such a manner as provided for in reasonable rules promulgated by the chief in accordance with the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a. After any such string of casing has been so run and cemented to the surface, drilling may proceed to the permitted depth.
(b) When a coalbed methane well is drilled through the horizon of a coalbed from which the coal has been removed, the hole shall be drilled at least thirty feet below the coalbed, of a size sufficient to permit the placing of a liner which shall start not less than twenty feet above it. Within this liner, which may be welded to the casing to be used, shall be centrally placed the largest sized casing to be used in the well, and the space between the liner and casing shall be filled with cement as they are lowered into the hole. Cement shall be placed in the bottom of the hole to a depth of twenty feet to form a sealed seat for both liner and casing. Following the setting of the liner, drilling shall proceed in the manner provided above. Should it be found necessary to drill through the horizon of two or more workable coalbeds from which the coal has been removed, such liner shall be started not less than twenty feet below the lowest such horizon penetrated and shall extend to a point not less than twenty feet above the highest such horizon.
(c) The chief may grant variances to the requirements of this section where such variance would promote the extraction of coalbed methane without affecting mine safety.
§22-7A-10. Performance bonds; corporate surety or other security.

(a) No permit may be issued pursuant to this article unless a bond is or has been furnished as provided in this section.
(b) A separate bond may be furnished for a particular coalbed methane well in the sum of ten thousand dollars, payable to the state of West Virginia, conditioned on full compliance with all laws and rules relating to the drilling, operation and stimulation of such wells, to the plugging, abandonment and reclamation thereof, and for furnishing such reports and information as may be required by the chief.
(c) When an operator makes or has made application for permits to drill, operate or stimulate more than one coalbed methane well or a combination of coalbed methane wells and wells regulated under article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code, the operator may, in lieu of furnishing a separate bond, furnish a blanket bond in the sum of fifty thousand dollars, payable to the state of West Virginia, and conditioned as stated in subsection (b) of this section.
(d) All bonds submitted hereunder shall have a corporate bonding or surety company authorized to do business in the state of West Virginia as surety thereon, or in lieu of a corporate surety, the operator may elect to deposit with the chief cash, collateral securities or any combination thereof as provided for in subsection twenty-six-d, article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code.
(e) For purposes of bonding requirements, a coalbed methane well shall be treated as a well, as defined and regulated in article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code, and the provisions of subsections (e), (g), (h), (i) and (j) of sectiontwenty-six thereof apply.
§22-7A-11. Notice to owners.

(a) Prior to filing an application for a permit for a coalbed methane well under this article, the applicant shall deliver by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, copies of the application, well plat and erosion and sediment control plan to the following:
(1) The owners of record of the surface of the tract on which the coalbed methane well is to be located;
(2) The owners of record of the surface of any tract which is to be utilized for roads or other land disturbance;
(3) Each owner of record and each operator of record of any coal seam whose coal seam will be penetrated by the coalbed methane well;
(4) Each coal owner of record or coal operator of record whose coal seam lies within seven hundred fifty horizontal feet of the well location or one hundred vertical feet above or below each proposed completion coal seam of the well;
(5) In the case of a proposed horizontal well each coal owner of record or coal operator of record within seven hundred fifty horizontal feet of any point of the proposed well or within one hundred vertical feet above or below the horizontal length of the well; and
(6) Each owner and lessee of record and each operator of natural gas surrounding the well bore and existing in formations above the top of the uppermost member of the "Onondaga Group" orat a depth less than six thousand feet, whichever is shallower. Notices to gas operators shall be sufficient if served upon the agent of record with the office of oil and gas.
(b) If more than three tenants in common or other coowners of interests described in subsection (a) of this section hold interests in such lands, the applicant may serve the documents required upon the person described in the records of the sheriff required to be maintained pursuant to section eight, article one, chapter eleven-a of this code, and publish in the county in which the well is located or to be located a Class II legal advertisement as described in section two, article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code, containing such notice and information as the chief shall prescribe by rule, with the first publication date being at least ten days prior to the filing of the permit application: Provided, That all owners and operators occupying or operating on the tracts where the well work is, or is proposed to be located at the filing date of the permit application shall receive actual service of the documents required by subsection (a) of this section.
(c) Materials served upon persons described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall contain a statement of the methods and time limits for filing comment and objection, who may file comment and objection, the name and address of the chief with whom the comment and objection must be filed, the ability to obtain additional information from the chief, the fact that such persons may request notice of the permit decision, and a list ofpersons qualified to test water as provided in this section.
(d) Any person entitled to submit comment or objection shall also be entitled to receive a copy of the permit as issued or a copy of the order denying the permit if such person requests the receipt thereof as a part of the comment or objection concerning said permit application.
(e) Persons entitled to notice may contact the district office of the office of oil and gas to ascertain the names and location of water testing laboratories in the area capable and qualified to test water supplies in accordance with standard accepted methods. In compiling such list of names the division shall consult with the state and local health departments.
§22-7A-12. Procedure for filing comments.

All persons described in subsection (a), section eleven of this article may file comments with the chief as to the location or construction of the applicant's proposed well within fifteen days after the application is filed with the chief.
§22-7A-13. Objections to coalbed methane wells by coal owner or operator; hearings.

The owner or operator of any coal seam whose coal seam is to be penetrated by a coalbed methane well may, within fifteen days from the receipt of notice required by section eleven of this article, file objections in writing to such proposed drilling with the chief, setting out the grounds on which such objections are based.
§22-7A-14. Review board hearing; findings; order.

(a) If comment or objection is filed under section twelve or thirteen of this article, or if a request and affidavit under section eight is filed, the chief shall forthwith provide to the chairman of the review board a copy of any such objection or comment, together with the application for a permit for the coalbed methane well in question, the plat filed therewith and such other information accompanying the permit as may relate to the comment or grounds for the objection.
(b) The review board shall forthwith schedule a hearing for the purpose of considering such objection, comment or request and affidavit. Notice shall be given fifteen days in advance to any person filing comment or objection to any applicant, and to all nonconsenting coal owners or operators identified on the application, and the review board shall hold such hearing within thirty days after the deadline for filing objection or comment.
At such hearing the review board shall consider the matters raised and shall base its decision on the following:
(1) Whether the drilling location is above or in close proximity to any mine opening, shaft, entry, travelway, airway, haulageway, drainageway or passageway or to any proposed extension thereof, any abandoned, operating coal mine or any coal mine already surveyed and platted but not yet being operated;
(2) Whether the proposed drilling can reasonably be done through an existing or planned pillar of coal, or in close proximity to an existing or planned pillar of coal, taking into consideration the surface topography;
(3) Whether the proposed well can be drilled safely, taking into consideration the dangers from creeps, squeezes or other disturbances due to the extraction of coal;
(4) The extent to which the proposed drilling location unreasonably interferes with the safe recovery of coal and gas;
(5) The extent to which the proposed drilling location will unreasonably interfere with present or future coal mining operations on the surface including, but not limited to, operations subject to the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-two-a of this code;
(6) The feasibility of moving the proposed drilling location to a mined-out area, below the coal outcrop, or to some other location;
(7) The feasibility of a drilling moratorium for not more than one year in order to permit the completion of imminent coal mining operations;
(8) The methods proposed for the recovery of coal and gas;
(9) The practicality of locating the well on a uniform pattern with other wells;
(10) The surface topography and use; and
(11) Whether any stimulation of the coal seam will render such seam or any other workable coal seams unworkable or unsafe for mining including in its considerations any recommendation of the director of the office of miner's health, safety and training submitted pursuant to section eight of this article.
(c) The review board shall enter a written order containingfindings of fact and conclusions which address any relevant considerations in subsection (b) of this section and based thereon shall issue and file with the chief a written order directing him to:
(1) Refuse a drilling permit; or
(2) Issue a drilling permit for the proposed drilling location; or
(3) Issue a drilling permit for an alternate drilling location different from that requested by the applicant; or
(4) Issue a drilling permit either for the proposed drilling location or for an alternative drilling location different from that requested by the applicant, but not allow the drilling of the well for a period of not more than one year from the date of issuance of such permit.
(5) Issue a permit with modifications of the drilling, casing, or stimulation program which addresses objections raised in the hearing and in the case of stimulation is consistent with any recommendation submitted by the director.
Upon receipt of such board order, the chief shall promptly undertake the action directed by the board:
Provided, That all other provisions of this article have been complied with. All permits issued by the chief pursuant to this section shall be effective ten days after issuance unless the review board orders the chief to stay the effectiveness of a permit for a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of issuance.
(d) The order of the review board shall incorporate anyrecommendations of the director of the office of miner's health, safety and training unless the board determines that there is clear and convincing evidence on the record supporting a finding, conclusion or order inconsistent with such recommendation.
If a permit is issued, the chief shall indicate the approved drilling location on the plat filed with the application for a permit and shall number and keep an index of and docket each plat, the name of the well operator, the names and addresses of all persons notified, the dates of conferences, hearings and all other actions taken by the chief and the review board. The chief shall also prepare a record of the proceedings, which record shall include all applications, plats and other documents filed with the chief, all notices given and proof of service thereof, all orders issued, all permits issued and a transcript of the hearing. The record prepared by the chief shall be open to inspection by the public.
(e)(1) In lieu of the hearing prescribed in this section, the parties may request that one or more of the issues set for hearing be submitted to binding arbitration before a panel of three arbitrators, one of whom shall be selected by the applicant, one of whom shall be selected by the objecting or nonconsenting parties and one of whom shall be selected by the other two arbitrators, or in the event agreement by the two arbitrators cannot be reached, selection shall be made by the director of the division of environmental protection.
(2) The board shall promulgate rules and procedures forconducting such arbitrations and all proceedings before the board shall be held in abeyance pending the issuance of the arbitrators findings.
§22-7A-15. Drilling units and pooling of interests.

(a) In the absence of a voluntary agreement, an operator having an interest in forming a drilling unit may file an application with the chief to pool (i) separately owned interests in a single tract, (ii) separately owned tracts, (iii) separately owned interests in any tract, and (iv) any combination of (i), (ii) and (iii) to form a drilling unit for the production of coalbed methane from one or more coalbed methane wells.
(b) The application for a drilling unit may accompany the application for a permit for a coalbed methane well or be filed as a supplement to the permit application. Such application shall be verified by the applicant and contain the following information for each well in the proposed unit:
(1) The identity of the well and operator as set out in the well permit application;
(2) The well number, if one has been assigned;
(3) The acreage of the proposed unit, all separate tracts which are included in the proposed unit, and where parts of tracts are included, the acreage of such parts;
(4) The district and county in which the unit is located;
(5) The names and addresses of the owners of the coal and gas underlying each separate tract, or the portion thereof which is to be included in the unit, any lessees or operators thereof,any coalbed methane royalty owners not otherwise named, and any other claimants thereto known to the applicant. When any coal seam is separately owned, the list of names shall identify such separate ownership giving the names of the separately owned seams;
(6) A statement describing the actions taken by the applicant to obtain a voluntary agreement from each interest owner or claimant named in the application from which agreement has not been obtained;
(7) Other pertinent and relevant information as the chief may prescribe by rules.
(c) The application for a drilling unit shall be accompanied with the following:
(1) A plat prepared by a licensed land surveyor or registered professional engineer showing the location of the coalbed methane well or wells, or proposed well or wells, the boundary and acreage of the proposed drilling unit, the boundary and acreage of each tract contained in the unit and, where parts of tracts are included, the boundary and acreage of such parts, a name identification of each tract, and the district and county in which the unit is located. All boundaries must be shown with courses and distances;
(2) A permit application fee of two hundred fifty dollars;
(3) A certificate by the applicant that the notice requirements of section eleven of this article were met by the applicant. Such certification may be by affidavit of personalservice, or the return receipt card, or other postal receipt, for certified mailing;
(4) An estimate of the cost of drilling, completing, equipping, operating, plugging and abandoning any well or wells in the proposed unit.
§22-7A-16. Same--Notice to owners.

(a) At least thirty days prior to the date set for hearing under section fourteen of this article, the applicant shall deliver by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, notice to the following:
(1) Each coal owner and coal operator of any coal seam underlying any tract or portion thereof which is proposed to be included in the unit;
(2) Each owner and lessee of record and each operator of natural gas surrounding the well bore and existing in formations above the top of the uppermost member of the "Onondaga Group" or at a depth less than six thousand feet, whichever is shallower. Notices to gas operators shall be sufficient if served upon the agent of record with the office of oil and gas;
(3) Any coalbed methane royalty owner to the extent not otherwise named; and
(4) Any other person or entity known to the operator to have an interest in the coal or natural gas.
(b) The notice required by subsection (a) of this section shall specify a time and place for a conference and a hearing on this application, shall advise the persons notified that theapplicant has filed an application for a drilling unit for the production of coalbed methane, that they may be present and object or offer comments to the formation of the proposed unit, and shall be accompanied with copies of (i) the permit application for the coalbed methane well, (ii) the permit application for the drilling unit, and (iii) the plat of the drilling unit.
§22-7A-17. Same--Review of application; hearing; pooling order; spacing; escrow account; operator; elections; working interests, royalty interests, carried interests, conflicting claims, division order.

(a) Prior to the time fixed for a hearing under subsection (b) of this section the board shall also set a time and place for a conference between the proposed applicant to operate a coalbed methane drilling unit and all persons identified in the application as having an interest in the coalbed methane or being a claimant if such interests are disputed, who have not entered into a voluntary agreement. At such conference the applicant and such other persons present or represented having an interest in the proposed unit shall be given an opportunity to enter into voluntary agreements for the development of the unit upon reasonable terms and conditions.
No order may be issued by the board as to any unit unless the applicant submits at the hearing a verified statement setting forth the results of the conference. If agreement is reached with all parties to the conference, the board shall find the unitis a voluntary unit and issue an order consistent with such finding.
(b) The chief shall, upon request of a proposed applicant for a drilling unit, provide a convenient date and time for a hearing on the application for a drilling unit, which hearing date shall be no sooner than thirty-five days nor more than sixty days of the date the request for hearing is made. The chief shall review the application and on the date specified for a hearing shall conduct a public hearing. The chief shall take evidence, making a record thereof and consider:
(1) The area which may be drained efficiently and economically by the proposed coalbed methane well or wells;
(2) The plan of development of the coal and the need for proper ventilation of any mines or degasification of any affected coal seams;
(3) The nature and character of any coal seam or seams which will be affected by the coalbed methane well or wells;
(4) The surface topography and property lines of the lands underlaid by the coal seams to be included in the unit;
(5) Evidence relevant to the proper boundary of the drilling unit;
(6) The nature and extent of ownership of each coalbed methane royalty owner or claimant and whether conflicting claims exist;
(7) Whether the applicant for the drilling unit proposes to be the operator of the coalbed methane well or wells within theunit; and if so, whether such applicant has a lease or other agreement from the owners or claimants of a majority interest in the proposed drilling unit;
(8) Whether a disagreement exists among the coalbed methane royalty owners or claimants over the designation of the operator for any coalbed methane wells within the unit, and if so, relevant evidence to determine which operator can properly and efficiently develop the coalbed methane within the unit for the benefit of the majority of the coalbed methane royalty owners;
(9) If more than one person is interested in operating a well within the unit, the estimated cost submitted by each such person for drilling, completing, operating and marketing the coalbed methane from any proposed well or wells; and
(10) Any other available geological or scientific data pertaining to the pool which is proposed to be developed.
(c) The chief shall take into account the evidence introduced, comments received and any objections at the hearing, and if satisfied that a drilling unit should not be established, shall enter an order denying the application. If the chief is satisfied that a drilling unit should be established, he shall enter a pooling order establishing a drilling unit. Such pooling order shall:
(1) Establish the boundary of the proposed unit, making such adjustments in the boundary as is just;
(2) Authorize the drilling and operation of a coalbed methane well or wells for production of coalbed methane from thepooled acreage;
(3) Establish minimum distances for any wells in the unit and for other wells which would drain the pooled acreage;
(4) Designate the operator who will be authorized to drill, complete and operate any well or wells in the unit;
(5) Establish a reasonable fee for the operator for operating costs, which shall include routine maintenance of the well and all accounting necessary to pay all expenses, royalties and amounts due working interest owners;
(6) Where no conflicting claims to ownership exist, set forth the fractional interests of the coalbed methane royalty owners and lessees, considering the extent to which the acreage of each owner bears to the total acreage in the drilling unit, and making a just and equitable distribution based upon the respective interests of such owners and lessees. Such fractional interests shall be expressed as a decimal carried to the sixth place;
(7) Provide for the establishment of an escrow account into which the payment of the estimated costs of drilling, completing, equipping, operating, plugging and abandoning the well or wells and the proceeds from production of coalbed methane shall be deposited for distribution as follows:
(A) Each owner electing to be a working interest owner, including the operator, shall deposit such owner's proportionate share of the estimated costs of drilling, completing, equipping, operating, plugging and abandoning the proposed coalbed methanewell or wells. Such deposits shall be made within fifteen days after making the election to be a working interest owner. Where conflicting claims exist, each claimant shall deposit an amount claimed to be that claimant's proportionate share;
(B) Amounts in the escrow account shall be used for the reasonable costs of drilling, completing, equipping, operating, plugging and abandoning any coalbed methane well or wells in the unit and payments for ad valorem taxes and such other costs and expenses as the chief may provide in the pooling order or any supplement thereto;
(C) All proceeds from sales of coalbed methane shall be deposited and distributed in accordance with the division order provided for in subsection (A) of this section.
(8) Such other findings and provisions as are appropriate for each order.
(d) The operator designated in such order shall be responsible for all costs and expenses of drilling, completing, equipping, operating, plugging and abandoning the well, shall market all production therefrom, shall collect all proceeds therefor and deposit the same in the escrow account, and shall distribute such proceeds in accordance with the division order issued by the chief.
(e) Upon issuance of the pooling order the coalbed methane royalty owners or any lessee of any such owners or any claimants thereto may elect one of the following within fifteen days after issuance of the order:
(1) Option 1. To become a working interest owner by participating in the risk and cost of the well. Within fifteen days after this election, such owner, lessee or claimant shall deposit in the escrow account such owner's proportionate share or claimed proportionate share of the estimated costs of the well;
(2) Option 2. To participate in the operation of the well as a carried interest owner;
(3) Option 3. To sell or lease his or her interest to the operator on such terms as the parties may agree, or if unable to agree, upon such terms as are set by the board in its order. Any owner who fails to make an election within the fifteen days prescribed herein shall be deemed to have elected this Option 3.
(f) The working interest in the well shall include the right to participate in decisions regarding expenditures and the obligation to pay for expenditures in excess of operating costs, taxes and other costs and expenses allowed in the pooling order. The working interest shall exist in (i) all owners who participate in the risk and cost of drilling and completing the well and (ii) carried interest owners after recoupment provided in subsection (h) of this section. The working interest owners' net revenue share shall be seven eighths of the proceeds of sales of coalbed methane at the wellhead after deduction of operating costs, taxes and other costs and expenses allowed in a pooling order. Unless the working interest owners otherwise agree, the working interest owners shall share in all costs and decisions in proportion to their ownership interest in the unit. If anyworking interest owner deposits amounts in the escrow account which is less than actual costs, such owner shall make a deposit for the deficiency.
(g) Where a coalbed methane royalty owner elects to become a carried interest owner, such owner shall be entitled to his proportionate share of the working interest after the other working interest owners have recouped three hundred percent of the reasonable capital costs of the well or wells, including drilling, completing, equipping, plugging and abandoning and any further costs of reworking or other improvements of a capital nature.
(h) Where conflicting claims of ownership to the coalbed methane exist, all funds relating to such conflicting claims shall be held in the escrow account until such conflicting claims are resolved either by the voluntary agreement of the owners or claimants or a final judicial determination of such ownership is made.
(i) After each coalbed methane royalty owner has made, or has been deemed to have made, an election under subsection (d) of this section, and after any conflicting claims to coalbed methane have been resolved as provided in subsection (h) of this section, the chief shall enter a division order which shall set out the net revenue interest of each working interest owner, including each carried interest owner, and the royalty interest of each coalbed methane royalty owner. Thereafter, payments from the escrow account shall be made in accordance with the divisionorder. The fractional interest of each owner shall be expressed as a decimal carried to the fourth place.
§22-7A-18. Operation on drilling units.

All operations including, but not limited to, the commencement, drilling or operation of a well upon a drilling unit for which a pooling order has been entered, are hereby deemed to be operations on each separately owned tract in the drilling unit by the several owners. That portion of the production allocated to a separately owned tract included in a drilling unit is hereby deemed to be produced from that tract.
§22-7A-19. Validity of unit agreements.

No agreement between or among coalbed methane operators or owners entered into for the development of coalbed methane or forming drilling units therefor may be held to violate the statutory or common law of this state prohibiting monopolies or acts, arrangements, contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade or commerce.
§22-7A-20. Spacing.

No coalbed methane well may be drilled closer than one hundred feet of the outside boundary of the coal tract from which coalbed methane is or will be produced unless otherwise provided in a pooling order issued by the chief, an order issued by the review board or under the terms of a voluntary pooling agreement.
§22-7A-21. Conversion of wells and ventholes.

(a) When an existing oil or gas well is proposed to be converted to produce coalbed methane, the operator shall submitan application for permit as set forth in section six of this article.
(b) A coalbed methane well may be converted to a ventilation hole upon the filing with the division, a notice by the coalbed methane well operator or coal operator proposing to make such conversion, and assumption by the coalbed methane well operator or coal operator of all applicable bonding requirements as set forth in section ten of this article, all applicable reclamation as required by section thirty, article one, chapter twenty-two-b, all applicable plugging requirements as set forth in section twenty-three of this article and compliance with the requirements of chapter twenty-two-a regarding ventilation holes.
§22-7A-22. Dry or abandoned wells.
Any coalbed methane well which is completed as a dry hole or which is not in use for a period of twelve consecutive months shall be presumed to have been abandoned and shall promptly be plugged by the operator in accordance with the provisions of this article, unless the operator furnishes satisfactory proof to the chief that there is a bona fide future use for such well in accordance with the rules promulgated under article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code.
§22-7A-23. Plugging and reclamation of well; notice; objection; plugging order.

All dry or abandoned coalbed methane wells, or coalbed methane wells presumed to be abandoned, shall be plugged and reclaimed. Prior to the commencement of plugging operations theoperator shall give thirty days' advance notice to the chief and to all coal owners and operators whose names and addresses would be required for a permit application under section six, subsection (b), subdivision (2), of this article as of the date of the notice. Such notice shall set out the number and other identification of the well, a copy of the well plat, the date plugging will commence, and the manner and method of plugging.
Any coal owner or operator whose coal seam is penetrated by such well may convert the well to a vent hole or otherwise take the well:
Provided, That such coal owner or operator furnishes a bond for plugging as required under section five, article five, chapter twenty-two-b of this code and assumes ownership of and responsibility for the well.
Any coal owner or operator whose seam is affected by the well may within fifteen days after receipt of notice file comment or objection with the chief with respect to the proposed manner or method of plugging. The chief shall consider any such comment or objection and issue an order specifying the manner and method of plugging and reclamation.
The chief shall promulgate rules specifying the manner and method of plugging coalbed methane wells which shall provide an equivalent level of protection to workable coalbeds as is provided for by section twenty-four, article one, chapter twenty- two-b of this code.
§22-7A-24. Judicial review; appeal to supreme court of appeals; legal representation for board.

(a) Any person adversely affected by an order of the chief or board is entitled to judicial review. All of the pertinent provisions of section four, article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code apply to and govern the judicial review.
(b) The judgment of the circuit court is final unless reversed, vacated or modified on appeal to the supreme court of appeals in accordance with the provisions of section one, article six, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(c) Legal counsel and services for the chief or board in all appeal proceedings in any circuit court and the supreme court of appeals shall be provided by the attorney general or his or her assistants and in any circuit court by the prosecuting attorney of the county, all without additional compensation. The chief or board, with the written approval of the attorney general, may employ special counsel to represent the chief or board at any appeal proceedings.
§22-7A-25. Limitation on actions in trespass.

In any case where title to subsurface minerals have been severed in such a way that title to natural gas underlying such tract and title to coal underlying such tract are in different persons, it shall be an affirmative defense to any action for willful trespass arising from the drilling and commercial production of methane from any coal seam underlying such tract, that the operator of such well permitted, drilled and completed such well under color of title of any instrument, deed, or lease for oil and gas purposes, or an instrument, deed or lease forcoal mining purposes.
§22-7A-26. Injunctive relief.
(a) Whenever it appears to the board that any person has been or is violating or is about to violate any provision of this article, any rule promulgated by the board hereunder, any order or any final decision of the board, the board may apply, in the name of the state, to the circuit court of the county in which the violations or any part thereof has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur, or to the judge thereof in vacation, for an injunction against such person and any other persons who have been, are or are about to be, involved in any practices, acts or omissions, so in violation, enjoining such person or persons from any such violation or violations. Such application may be made and prosecuted to conclusion whether or not any such violation or violations have resulted or shall result in prosecution or conviction under the provisions of section seventeen of this article.
(b) Upon application by the board, the circuit courts of this state may by mandatory or prohibitory injunction compel compliance with the provisions of this article, the rules promulgated by the board hereunder and all orders of the board. The court may issue a temporary injunction in any case pending a decision on the merits of any application filed. Any other section of this code to the contrary notwithstanding, the state is not required to furnish bond or other undertaking as a prerequisite to obtaining mandatory, prohibitory or temporaryinjunctive relief under the provisions of this article.
(c) The judgment of the circuit court upon any application permitted by the provisions of this section is final unless reversed, vacated or modified on appeal to the supreme court of appeals. Any such appeal shall be sought in the manner and within the time provided by law for appeals from circuit courts in other civil actions.
(d) The board shall be represented in all such proceedings by the attorney general or his or her assistants and in proceedings in the circuit courts by the prosecuting attorneys of the several counties as well, all without additional compensation. The board, with the written approval of the attorney general, may employ special counsel to represent the board in any such proceedings.
(e) If the board refuses or fails to apply for an injunction to enjoin a violation or threatened violation of any provision of this article, any rule promulgated by the board hereunder or any order or final decision of the board, within ten days after receipt of a written request to do so by any person who is or will be adversely affected by such violation or threatened violation, the person making such request may apply in his or her own behalf for an injunction to enjoin the violation or threatened violation in any court in which the board might have brought suit. The board shall be made a party defendant in the application in addition to the person or persons violating or threatening to violate any provision of this article, any rulepromulgated by the board hereunder or any order of the board. The application shall proceed and injunctive relief may be granted without bond or other undertaking in the same manner as if the application had been made by the chairman.
§22-7A-27. Penalties.

(a) Any person, who violates any term or condition of a permit issued under this article, which violation is found by the board to have rendered unmineable all or a portion of a workable coal seam, is subject to civil penalties, to be imposed and collected by the board in an amount not to exceed the reasonably expected net profit lost to the coal owner as a result thereof. All such penalties collected shall be transferred to the special reclamation fund as provided by section twenty-nine, article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code.
(b) Any person who violates any provision of this article, any of the rules promulgated by the board hereunder or any order of the board other than a violation governed by the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.
(c) Any person who, with the intention of evading any provision of this article, any of the rules promulgated by the board hereunder or any order of the board, shall make or cause to be made any false entry or statement in any application or other document permitted or required to be filed under the provisions of this article, any of the rules promulgated by the boardhereunder or any order of the board, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned.
(d) Any person who knowingly aids or abets any other person in the violation of any provision of this article, any of the rules promulgated by the board hereunder or any order or final decision of the board, is subject to the same penalty as that prescribed in this article for the violation by such other person.
§22-7A-28. Construction.

This article shall be liberally construed so as to effectuate the declaration of public policy set forth in section one of this article.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide a declaration of public policy concerning coalbed methane wells and units.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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