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Introduced Version Senate Bill 700 History

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sb700 intr
Senate Bill No. 700

(By Senators Tomblin, Mr. President, and Caruth, by Request of the Executive)

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[Introduced February 18, 2008 ; referred to the Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §22-3-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend and reenact §22-6-22 of said code; and to amend and reenact §22- 21-3 of said code, all relating to the recording of certain geologic information; requiring the filing of said information with the Department of Environmental Protection and the State Geological and Economic Survey; providing for the filing of core samples with the State Geological and Economic Survey; and providing for confidentiality of certain geologic information.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That
§22-3-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; that §22-6-22 of said code be amended and reenacted; and that §22- 21-3 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT .

§22-3-7. Notice of intention to prospect, requirements therefor; bonding; director's authority to deny or limit; prospecting report to be filed; core samples to be filed; postponement of reclamation; prohibited acts; exceptions.

(a) Any person intending to prospect for coal in an area not covered by a surface-mining permit, in order to determine the location, quantity or quality of a natural coal deposit, making feasibility studies or for any other purpose, shall file with the director, at least fifteen days prior to commencement of any disturbance associated with prospecting, a notice of intention to prospect, which notice shall include a description of the prospecting area, the period of supposed prospecting and such other information as required by rules promulgated pursuant to this section: Provided, That prior to the commencement of such prospecting, the director may issue an order denying or limiting permission to prospect where the director finds that prospecting operations will damage or destroy a unique natural area, or will cause serious harm to water quality, or that the operator has failed to satisfactorily reclaim other prospecting sites, or that there has been an abuse of prospecting by previous prospecting operations in the area. (b) Notice of intention to prospect shall be made in writing on forms prescribed by the director and shall be signed and verified by the applicant. The notice shall be accompanied by (1) a United States geological survey topographic map showing by proper marking the crop line and the name, where known, of the seam or seams to be prospected, and (2) a bond, or cash, or collateral securities or certificates of the same type and form and in the same manner as provided in section eleven of this article, in the amount of five hundred dollars per acre or fraction thereof for the total estimated disturbed area. If such bond is used, it shall be payable to the state of West Virginia and conditioned that the operator faithfully perform the requirements of this article as they relate to backfilling and revegetation of the disturbed area. (c) Any person prospecting under the provisions of this section shall ensure that such prospecting operation is conducted in accordance with the performance standards in section thirteen of this article for all lands disturbed in explorations, including excavations, roads, drill holes, and the removal of necessary facilities and equipment.
(d) Any person prospecting under the provisions of this section shall file with the director a report which shall include the following information:
(1) the location of any test boring or core sample drilling;
(2) an accurate log of any drill holes depicting (A) the character, depth and thickness of geological formations encountered, (B) the location of subsurface water, if encountered, (C) the depth and thickness of any coal or rider seams, mineral beds, or brine and oil and gas bearing formations, (D) and such other information as the director may require.
The director may promulgate such reasonable rules in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as he or she may deem necessary to ensure that the aforesaid information is accurately recorded:
Provided, That the director shall not require logging by the use of an electrical logging device: Provided, however,
That if electrical or other mechanical or geophysical logs are recorded, they shall be filed with the state geological and economic survey. Any person filing a report pursuant to this subsection shall, within thirty days, provide a copy of said report to the state geological and economic survey.
(e) If a person prospecting under the provisions of this section takes core samples, a complete set of cores, either whole or at least quarter slabs, correctly labeled and identified as to depth shall, upon written request of the state geological and economic survey, be filed therewith.
(d)(f) Information submitted to the director or the state geological and economic survey pursuant to this section as confidential, concerning trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information, which relates to the competitive rights of the person or entity intended to prospect the described area, that concerns trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information, and which relates to the competitive rights of the person or entities prospecting the described area, is not available for public examination and shall be kept confidential by the director and the state geological and economic survey for one year following the date the information is filed, unless the prospector gives written permission to release such information at an earlier date. For good cause shown, the director may extend the period of confidentiality for one year: Provided, That the total period of confidentiality shall not exceed three years. This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit the publication or release of information generated as a part of the minerals mapping or geographic information system, whether in the form of aggregated statistics, maps, articles, reports, professional talks or otherwise, presented in accordance with generally accepted practices and in a manner so as to preclude the identification or determination of information about a particular prospector.
(e)(g) Any person who conducts any prospecting activities which substantially disturb the natural land surface in violation of this section or rules issued pursuant thereto is subject to the provisions of sections sixteen and seventeen of this article. (f)(h) No operator shall remove more than two hundred fifty tons of coal without the specific written approval of the director. Such approval shall be requested by the operator on forms prescribed by the director. The director shall promulgate rules governing such operations and setting forth information required in the application for approval. Each such application shall be accompanied by a two thousand dollar filing fee. (g)(i) The bond accompanying said notice of intention to prospect shall be released by the director when the operator demonstrates that a permanent species of vegetative cover is established. (h)(j) In the event an operator desires to mine the area currently being prospected, and has requested and received an appropriate surface mine application (S.M.A.) number, the director may permit the postponement of the reclamation of the area prospected. Any part of a prospecting operation, where reclamation has not been postponed as provided above, shall be reclaimed within a period of three months from disturbance. (i)(k) For the purpose of this section, the word "prospect" or "prospecting" does not include core drilling related solely to taxation or highway construction.
ARTICLE 6. OFFICE OF OIL AND GAS; OIL AND GAS WELLS; ADMINISTRATION; ENFORCEMENT.

§22-6-22. Well log to be filed; contents; authority to promulgate rules; core samples to be filed.

(a) Within a reasonable time after the completion of the drilling of a well or the completion of core sample drilling, the well operator shall file with the director an accurate log. Such log shall contain a report which shall include the following information:
(1) the location of any test boring or core sample drilling
;
(2)
the character, depth and thickness of geological formations encountered, including fresh water, coal seams, mineral beds, brine and oil and gas bearing formations; and
(3) such other information as the director may require to effectuate the purposes of this chapter. The director may promulgate such reasonable rules in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as he or she may deem necessary to ensure that the character, depth and thickness of geological formations encountered are accurately logged: Provided, That the director shall not require logging by the use of an electrical logging device: Provided, however, That if electrical or other mechanical or geophysical logs are recorded in the well, they shall be filed with the state geological and economic survey. Any person filing a report pursuant to this subsection shall, within thirty days, provide a copy of said report to the state geological and economic survey
.
(b) If a well operator takes core samples or well cuttings, a complete set of cores, either whole or at least quarter slabs, and/or well cuttings correctly labeled and identified as to depth shall, upon written request of the state geological and economic survey, be filed therewith.

(c) Information submitted to the director or the state geological and economic survey pursuant to this section that concerns trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information, and which relates to the competitive rights of the person or entities conducting well operations or core sample drilling,
is not available for public examination and shall be kept confidential by the director and the state geological and economic survey for one year following the date the information is filed, unless the well operator gives written permission to release such information at an earlier date. For good cause shown, the director may extend the period of confidentiality for one year: Provided, That the total period of confidentiality shall not exceed three years. This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit the publication or release of information generated as a part of the minerals mapping or geographic information system, whether in the form of aggregated statistics, maps, articles, reports, professional talks or otherwise, presented in accordance with generally accepted practices and in a manner so as to preclude the identification or determination of information about a particular well operator.
ARTICLE 21. COALBED METHANE WELLS AND UNITS.
§22-21-3. Application of article; exclusions; application of chapter twenty-two-b to coalbed methane wells.

(a) The provisions of this article apply to: (1) all lands in this state under which a coalbed is located, including any lands owned or administered by the state or any agency or subdivision thereof; and (2) any coalbed methane well. (b) This article does not apply to or affect: (1) any well otherwise permitted, approved or regulated under articles six, seven, eight, nine or ten of this chapter or article eight, chapter twenty-two-c of this code; (2) any ventilation fan, vent hole, mining apparatus, or other facility utilized solely for the purpose of venting any mine or mine area; or (3) the ventilation of any mine or mine area or degasification of any coal seam for the mining of coal. (c) This article does not apply to or affect subsurface boreholes drilled from the mine face of an underground mine, except that the provisions of sections fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen shall apply. (d) To the extent that coalbed methane wells are similar to wells, as defined in section one, article six of this chapter, and the production of coalbed methane is similar to the production of natural gas, coalbed methane wells shall be treated as wells and coalbed methane treated as natural gas and subject to the following sections of article six of this chapter: (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 review of findings and orders by the chief, special inspection, annulment, revision of order and notice; (3) The provisions of section five providing for the requirements of findings, orders and notices; posting of findings and orders; and judicial review of final orders of the chief; (4) The provisions of section twenty-one providing for protective devices -- installation of freshwater casings; (5) The provisions of section twenty-two providing for a well log report and core samples to be filed, contents, and authority to promulgate regulations, and confidentiality. In addition to the requirements of such section, the operator shall certify that the well was drilled and completed as shown on the well plat required for a coalbed methane well, or in the alternative, file a revised well plat showing the actual location of the well and the coal seams in which the well is completed for production. Such log and certificate shall be served on all coal owners and operators who must be named in the permit application under section six of this article; (6) The provisions of section twenty-eight providing for supervision by the chief over drilling and reclamation operations, complaints, hearings and appeals; (7) The provisions of section twenty-nine providing for special reclamation funds and 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 and rejection thereof; (10) The provisions of section thirty-two providing for the right of adjacent owner or operator to prevent waste of gas and recovery of costs; (11) The provisions of section thirty-three providing for restraining waste; (12) The provisions of section thirty-four providing for offenses and penalties; (13) The provisions of section thirty-five providing for civil action for contamination or deprivation of freshwater source or supply and 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 ten of this chapter shall apply to coalbed methane wells. Any well which is abandoned or presumed to be abandoned under the provisions of this article shall be treated as an abandoned well under said article ten. In addition, the provisions of article seven of this chapter shall apply to permits issued pursuant to this article.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require coal prospectors to record certain geological information and to report said information to the department of environmental protection. The bill also provides for the sharing of geological information recorded by coal and well operators with the state geological and economic survey. Finally, the bill provides for the filing of core samples taken by coal prospectors and well operators and the submission of said samples to the state geological and economic survey.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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