§ 45.1-361.35. Objections to permits; hearing.
A. Objections to new or modification permits may be filed with the Director by those having standing as set out in § 45.1-361.30. Such objections shall be filed within fifteen days of the objecting party's receipt of the notice required by § 45.1-361.30. Persons objecting to a permit must state the reasons for their objections.
B. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by surface owners are:
1. The operations plan for soil erosion and sediment control is not adequate or not effective;
2. Measures in addition to the requirement for a well's water-protection string are necessary to protect fresh water-bearing strata;
3. The permitted work will constitute a hazard to the safety of any person;
4. Location of the coalbed methane well or coalbed methane well pipeline will unreasonably infringe on the surface owner's use of the surface, provided that a reasonable alternative site is available within the unit, and granting the objection will not materially impair any right contained in an agreement, valid at the time of the objection, between the surface owner and the operator or their predecessors or successors in interest; and
5. If the surface owner is an interstate park commission, the location of the well or pipeline will unreasonably infringe on the surface owner's use of the surface, provided that a reasonable alternative site is available within the unit, and that granting the objection will not materially impair any right contained in an agreement, valid at the time of the objection, between the surface owner and the operator or their predecessors or successors in interest.
C. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by royalty owners are whether the proposed well work:
1. Directly impinges upon the royalty owner's gas and oil interest; or
2. Threatens to violate the objecting royalty owner's property or statutory rights aside from his contractual rights; and
3. Would not adequately prevent the escape of the Commonwealth's gas and oil resources or provide for the accurate measurement of gas and oil production and delivery to the first point to sale.
D. Objections to permits or permit modifications may be raised by coal owners or operators pursuant to the provisions of §§ 45.1-361.11 and 45.1-361.12.
E. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by mineral owners are those that could be raised by a coal owner under § 45.1-361.11 provided the mineral owner makes the objection and affirmatively proves that it does in fact apply with equal force to the mineral in question.
F. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by gas storage field operators are those in which the gas storage operator affirmatively proves that the proposed well work will adversely affect the operation of his State Corporation Commission certificated gas storage field; however, nothing in this subsection shall be construed to preclude the owner of nonstorage strata from the drilling of wells for the purpose of producing oil or gas from any stratum above or below the storage stratum.
G. The Director shall have no jurisdiction to hear objections with respect to any matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Board as set out in Article 2 (§ 45.1-361.13 et seq.) of this chapter. Such objections shall be referred to the Board in a manner prescribed by the Director.
H. The Director shall fix a time and place for an informal fact-finding hearing concerning such objections. The hearing shall not be scheduled for less than twenty nor more than thirty days after the objection is filed. The Director shall prepare a notice of the hearing, stating all objections and by whom made, and send a copy of such notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least ten days prior to the hearing date, to the permit applicant and to every person with standing to object as prescribed by § 45.1-361.30.
I. At the hearing, should the parties fail to come to an agreement, the Director shall proceed to decide the objection pursuant to those provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) relating to informal fact-finding procedures.
1982, c. 347, §§ 45.1-315, 45.1-316, 45.1-317; 1987, c. 452; 1989, c. 529; 1990, c. 92; 1996, c. 854; 1998, c. 228; 2002, c. 277.