Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 16. Virginia Gas and Oil Act
10/16/2021

§ 45.2-1629. (Effective October 1, 2021) Duties, responsibilities, and authority of the Director.

A. The Director shall adopt and enforce regulations and orders necessary to ensure the safe and efficient development and production of gas and oil resources located in the Commonwealth. Such regulations and orders shall be designed to:

1. Prevent pollution of state waters and require compliance with the water quality standards adopted by the State Water Control Board;

2. Protect against offsite disturbances from gas, oil, or geophysical operations;

3. Ensure the restoration of all sites disturbed by gas, oil, or geophysical operations;

4. Prevent the escape of the Commonwealth's gas and oil resources;

5. Provide for safety in coal and mineral mining and coalbed methane well and related facility operations;

6. Control wastes from gas, oil, or geophysical operations;

7. Provide for the accurate measurement of gas and oil production and delivery to the first point of sale; and

8. Protect the public safety and general welfare.

B. In adopting regulations and when issuing orders for the enforcement of the provisions of this article, the Director shall consider the following factors:

1. The protection of the citizens and environment of the Commonwealth from the public safety and environmental risks associated with the development and production of gas or oil;

2. The means of ensuring the safe recovery of coal and other minerals without substantially affecting the right of coal, minerals, gas, oil, or geophysical operators to explore for and produce coal, minerals, gas, or oil; and

3. The protection of safety and health on permitted sites for coalbed methane wells and related facilities.

C. In adopting regulations and orders, the Director may set and enforce standards governing the following: gas or oil ground-disturbing geophysical exploration; the development, drilling, casing, equipping, operating, and plugging of gas or oil production, storage, enhanced recovery, or disposal wells; the development, operation, and restoration of site disturbances for wells, gathering pipelines, and associated facilities; and gathering pipeline safety.

D. Whenever the Director determines that an emergency exists, he shall issue an emergency order without advance notice or hearing. Such order shall have the same validity as an order issued with advance notice and hearing but shall remain in force no longer than 30 days from its effective date. After issuing an emergency order, the Director shall promptly notify the public of the order by publication and hold a public hearing for the purposes of modifying, repealing, or making permanent the emergency order. An emergency order shall prevail as against a general regulation or order when in conflict with it. Emergency orders shall apply to gas, oil, or geophysical operations and to particular fields, geographical areas, subject areas, subject matters, or situations.

E. The Director also may:

1. Issue, condition, and revoke permits;

2. Issue notices of violation and orders upon the violation of any provision of this chapter or regulation adopted thereunder;

3. Issue closure orders in cases of imminent danger to persons or damage to the environment or upon a history of violations;

4. Require or forfeit bonds or other financial securities;

5. Prescribe the nature of and form for the presentation of any information or documentation required by any provision of this article or regulation adopted thereunder;

6. Maintain suit in the county or city where a violation has occurred or is threatened or wherever a person who has violated or threatens to violate any provision of this chapter is found in order to restrain the actual or threatened violation;

7. At reasonable times and under reasonable circumstances, enter upon any property and take action as necessary to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter; and

8. Inspect and review all properties and records thereof as necessary to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter.

F. The Director has no jurisdiction to hear objections with respect to any matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Board as set out in Article 2 (§ 45.2-1613 et seq.). Such objections shall be referred to the Board in a manner prescribed by the Director.

1982, c. 347, §§ 45.1-315, 45.1-316, 45.1-317; 1987, c. 452; 1989, c. 529; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.35; 1996, c. 854; 1998, c. 228; 2002, c. 277; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.