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

Article 3. Regulation of Gas and Oil Development and Production.

§ 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.

§ 45.2-1630. (Effective October 1, 2021) Powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Inspector.

A. The Inspector shall administer the laws and regulations and shall have access to all records and properties necessary for this purpose. He shall perform all duties delegated by the Director pursuant to § 45.2-105 and maintain permanent records of the following:

1. Each application for a gas, oil, or geophysical operation and each permitted gas, oil, or geophysical operation;

2. Meetings, actions, and orders of the Board;

3. Each petition for mining coal within 200 feet of or through a well;

4. Each request for special plugging by a coal owner or coal operator; and

5. All other records prepared pursuant to this chapter.

B. The Inspector or another Department employee as determined by the Director shall serve as the principal executive of the staff of the Board.

C. The Inspector may take charge of well or corehole operations or pipeline emergency operations whenever a well or corehole blowout, release of hydrogen sulfide or other gas, or other serious accident occurs.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-293; 1987, c. 452; 1989, c. 164; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.28; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 387, 532.

§ 45.2-1631. (Effective October 1, 2021) Permit required; gas, oil, or geophysical operations; coalbed methane gas wells; environmental assessment.

A. No person shall commence any ground-disturbing activity for a well, gathering pipeline, geophysical exploration, or associated activity, facility, or structure without first having obtained from the Director a permit to conduct such activity. Every permit application or permit modification application filed with the Director shall be verified by the permit applicant and shall contain all data, maps, plats, plans, and other information as required by regulation or the Director.

B. For each permit issued on or after July 1, 1996, a new permit issued by the Director shall be issued only for the following activities: geophysical operations, drilling, casing, equipping, stimulating, producing, reworking an initially productive zone, plugging a well, or construction and operation of a gathering pipeline. An application for a new permit to conduct geophysical operations shall be accompanied by an application fee of $130. An application for a new permit for any other activity shall be accompanied by an application fee of $600.

C. For a permit issued prior to July 1, 1996, prior to commencing any reworking, deepening, or plugging of a well, or other activity not previously approved on the permitted site, a permittee shall first obtain a permit modification from the Director. Each application for a permit modification shall be accompanied by a permit modification fee of $300. For a permit issued on or after July 1, 1996, prior to commencing any new zone completion, a permittee shall first obtain a permit modification from the Director.

D. Every permit and all operations provided for under this section shall conform to the regulations and orders of the Director and the Board. If permit terms or conditions required or provided for under this article are in conflict with any provision of a conservation order issued pursuant to the provisions of Article 2 (§ 45.2-1613 et seq.), the terms or conditions of the permit shall control. In such event, the operator shall return to the Board for reconsideration of the conservation order in light of the conflicting permit. Every permittee shall be responsible for all operations, activities, or disturbances associated with the permitted site.

E. No permit or permit modification shall be issued by the Director until he has received from the applicant a written certification that (i) all notice requirements of this article have been complied with, together with proof thereof, and (ii) the applicant has the right to conduct the operations as set forth in the application and operations plan.

F. A permit is required to drill any coalbed methane gas well or to convert any methane drainage borehole into a coalbed methane gas well. In addition to the other requirements of this section, every permit application for a coalbed methane gas well shall include:

1. The method that the coalbed methane gas well operator will use to stimulate the well.

2. a. A signed consent from the coal operator of each coal seam that is located within (i) 750 horizontal feet of the proposed well location that the applicant proposes to stimulate or (ii) 100 vertical feet above or below a coal-bearing stratum that the applicant proposes to stimulate.

b. The consent required by this subsection may be (i) contained in a lease or other such agreement; (ii) contained in an instrument of title; or (iii) in any case where a coal operator cannot be located or identified and the operator has complied with § 45.2-1618, provided by a pooling order entered pursuant to § 45.2-1620 or 45.2-1622 if such order contains a finding that the operator has exercised due diligence in attempting to identify and locate the coal operator, contained in such order. The consent required by this subsection shall be deemed to be granted for any tract where title to the coal is held by multiple owners if the applicant has obtained consent to stimulate from the cotenants holding a majority interest in the tract and none of the coal cotenants has leased the tract for coal development. The requirement of signed consent contained in this subsection shall in no way be considered to impair, abridge, or affect any contractual rights or objections arising out of a coalbed methane gas contract or coalbed methane gas lease entered into prior to January 1, 1990, between the applicant and any coal operator or any extension or renewal thereto, and the existence of such lease or contractual arrangement and any extension or renewal thereto shall constitute a waiver of the requirement for the applicant to file an additional signed consent.

3. The unit map, if any, approved by the Board.

G. No permit that is required by this chapter for an activity to be conducted within an area of Tidewater Virginia where drilling is authorized under subsection B of § 45.2-1646 shall be granted until the environmental impact assessment required by § 45.2-1646 has been conducted and the assessment has been reviewed by the Department.

H. The applicant for a permit for a gathering pipeline, oil or gas well, or coalbed methane well shall identify in the permit application any cemetery, as identified on a United States Geological Survey topographic map or located by routine field review, within 100 feet of the permitted activity.

I. The operator of any coalbed methane well drilled within 250 feet of a cemetery shall comply with a written request of any person owning an interest in a private cemetery or the authorized agent of a public cemetery that the operator of such well suspend operations for a period from two hours before to two hours after any burial service that takes place on the surface area of such cemetery. However, if the well operator or a mine operator determines that such suspension of operations will have an adverse effect on the safety of the well operations or mining operations, the operator shall be under no obligation to comply with the request, and operation of the well shall continue.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-311; 1985, c. 601; 1987, c. 452; 1988, c. 160, § 45.1-311.1; 1990, cc. 92, 967, § 45.1-361.29; 1994, c. 957; 1995, c. 269; 1996, c. 854; 1997, cc. 759, 765; 1998, c. 229; 2003, cc. 542, 550; 2008, c. 227; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1632. (Effective October 1, 2021) Notice of permit applications and permit modification applications required; content.

A. Within one day of the day on which the application for a permit for a gas or oil operation is filed, the applicant shall provide notice of the application to the following persons:

1. Every surface owner, coal owner, and mineral owner on the tract to be drilled;

2. Every coal operator who has registered an operation plan with the Department for activities located on the tract to be drilled;

3. Every surface owner on a tract where the surface is to be disturbed;

4. Every gas, oil, or royalty owner (i) within one half of the distance specified in § 45.2-1616 for that type of well or one half of the distance to the nearest well completed in the same pool, whichever is less, or (ii) within the boundaries of a drilling unit established pursuant to the provisions of this chapter;

5. Every coal operator who has applied for or obtained a mining or prospecting permit with respect to a tract located within 500 feet of the proposed well location or, in the case of a proposed coalbed methane gas well location, within 750 feet thereof;

6. Every coal owner or mineral owner on a tract located within 500 feet of the proposed well location or, in the case of a proposed coalbed methane gas well location, within 750 feet thereof; and

7. Every operator of a gas storage field certificated by the State Corporation Commission as a public utility facility whose certificated area includes the well location or whose certificated boundary is within 1,250 feet of the proposed well location.

B. Within one day of the day on which the application for a permit modification for a gas or oil operation is filed, the applicant requesting such permit modification shall provide notice of the application to all persons listed in subsection A who may be directly affected by the proposed activity.

C. Within one day of the day on which the application for a permit for geophysical operations is submitted, the applicant shall provide notice to those persons listed in subdivisions A 1, 2, and 3.

D. Each notice required to be given pursuant to subsection A, B, or C shall contain a statement of the time within which objections may be made and the name and address of the person to whom objections shall be forwarded. Only a person entitled to notice under subsection A, B, or C shall have standing to object to the issuance of the proposed permit or permit modification for a gas, oil, or geophysical operation as the use may be. Upon receipt of notice, any person may waive in writing the time and right to object.

E. Within seven days of the day on which the application for a permit is filed, the applicant shall provide notice to (i) the local governing body or chief executive officer of the locality where the well is proposed to be located and (ii) the general public, through publication of a notice in at least one newspaper of general circulation in the locality where the well is proposed to be located.

F. An applicant shall make a reasonable effort to provide the notices required under subsections A, B, and C. If an applicant is unable to identify or locate any person to whom notice is required, then the notice provided in clause (ii) of subsection E shall be considered sufficient notice to such persons and the date of notification shall be the date of publication.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-313; 1984, c. 590; 1987, c. 452; 1989, c. 529; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.30; 1996, c. 854; 2008, c. 534; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1633. (Effective October 1, 2021) Bonding and financial security required.

A. To ensure compliance with all laws and regulations pertaining to permitted activities and the furnishing of reports and other information required by the Board or Director, each permit applicant shall give bond with surety acceptable to the Director and payable to the Commonwealth. At the election of the permit applicant, a cash bond may be given. The amount of the bond required shall be sufficient to cover the costs of properly plugging the well and restoring the site but in no case shall the amount of the bond be less than $10,000 per well plus $2,000 per acre of disturbed land, calculated to the nearest tenth of an acre. Each bond shall remain in force until released by the Director. The Director may require additional bond or financial security for any well proposed to be drilled in Tidewater Virginia.

B. Upon receipt of an application for multiple permits for gas or oil operations and at the request of the permit applicant, the Director may, in lieu of requiring a separate bond for each permit, require a blanket bond. The amount of the blanket bond shall be as follows:

1. For one to 10 wells, $25,000.

2. For 11 to 50 wells, $50,000.

3. For 51 to 200 wells, $100,000.

4. For more than 200 wells, $200,000.

For purposes of calculating blanket bond amounts, from one-tenth of an acre to five acres of disturbed land for a separately permitted gathering pipeline shall be equivalent to one well. The Director shall adopt regulations for the release of acreage used to calculate blanket bond amounts for separately permitted gathering pipelines in cases where sites have been stabilized.

C. Any gas or oil operator who elects to post a blanket bond shall pay into the Gas and Oil Plugging and Restoration Fund those fees and assessments required under the provisions of § 45.2-1634.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.31; 2019, c. 351; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1634. (Effective October 1, 2021) Gas and Oil Plugging and Restoration Fund.

A. There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Gas and Oil Plugging and Restoration Fund, referred to in this section as "the Fund." All payments made into the Fund by gas or oil operators, all collections of debt for expenditures made from the Fund, and all interest payments made into the Fund pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to the Fund. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller and any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Director or his designee.

B. Each permittee operating under a blanket bond pursuant to § 45.2-1633 shall annually pay to the Fund an amount equal to $50 multiplied by the number of permits he then holds, such payment to be submitted with the annual report required under § 45.2-1640, until the payments and interest accruing to the Fund totals $100,000. Whenever the Director determines that the Fund's balance has fallen below $25,000 due to uncollectible debts, the Director shall assess a fee of $50 per permit per year on each permittee with a blanket bond until the Fund's balance once again reaches $100,000.

C. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purpose of supplementing bond proceeds in order to pay for the full cost of plugging and restoration in the event of a blanket bond forfeiture.

D. The amount by which the cost of plugging and restoration exceeds the amount of the gas or oil operator's forfeited bond shall constitute a debt of the operator to the Commonwealth. The Director is authorized to collect such debts together with the costs of collection through appropriate legal action. All moneys collected pursuant to this subsection, less the costs of collection, shall be deposited in the Fund.

E. No permit shall be issued to a gas or oil operator until he has fully reimbursed the Commonwealth for any debt incurred pursuant to the provisions of subsection D.

F. In the event of a discontinuance of the Fund, any amounts remaining in the Fund shall be returned to each gas or oil operator with a blanket bond in proportion to the number of permits under the blanket bond of each operator.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.32; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1635. (Effective October 1, 2021) Expiration of permits.

Each permit issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire 24 months from its date of issuance unless the permitted activity has commenced within that time period. An operator may renew an existing permit for an additional 24 months by submitting a written request containing the coal operator's approval and remitting a $325 renewal fee no later than the expiration date.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.33; 1996, c. 854; 2003, cc. 542, 550; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1636. (Effective October 1, 2021) Abandonment or cessation of well or corehole operation; plugging required.

Upon the abandonment or cessation of the operation of any well or corehole, the gas, oil, or geophysical operator shall immediately fill and plug the well or corehole in the manner required by regulations in force at the time of abandonment or the operation's cessation.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.34; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1637. (Effective October 1, 2021) Objections to permits; hearing.

A. Objections to a new permit or permit modification may be filed with the Director by any person having standing as set out in § 45.2-1632. Such objections shall be filed within 15 days of the objecting party's receipt of the notice required by § 45.2-1632. Any person objecting to a permit shall state the reasons for his objections.

B. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by a surface owner 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 freshwater-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, so long as 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, so long as 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.

C. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by a royalty owner are that the proposed well work:

1. Directly impinges upon the royalty owner's gas and oil interest;

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 a coal owner or operator pursuant to the provisions of §§ 45.2-1611 and 45.2-1612.

E. The only objections to permits or permit modifications that may be raised by a mineral owner are those that could be raised by a coal owner under § 45.2-1611, so long as 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 a gas storage field operator are those in which the gas storage operator affirmatively proves that the proposed well work will adversely affect the operation of his gas storage field certificated by the State Corporation Commission; however, nothing in this subsection shall be construed to preclude the owner of nonstorage strata from drilling a well for the purpose of producing oil or gas from any stratum above or below the storage stratum.

G. The Director shall fix a time and place for an informal fact-finding hearing concerning an objection filed pursuant to this section. The hearing shall be scheduled for not less than 20 nor more than 30 days after the objection is filed. The Director shall prepare a notice of the hearing, stating all objections and by whom each is made, and send a copy of such notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 10 days prior to the hearing date to the permit applicant and to every person with standing to object as prescribed by § 45.2-1632.

H. At the hearing, if the parties fail to come to an agreement, the Director shall proceed to decide the objection pursuant to the 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, § 45.1-361.35; 1996, c. 854; 1998, c. 228; 2002, c. 277; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1638. (Effective October 1, 2021) Appeals of Director's decisions to the Board.

A. Any person with standing under the provisions of § 45.2-1632 who is aggrieved by a decision of the Director may appeal to the Board, subject to the limitations imposed by subsection B, by petition to the Board filed within 10 days following the appealed decision.

B. No petition for appeal may raise any matter other than a matter that was raised by the Director or that the petitioner put in issue either by application or by an objection, proposal, or claim made and specified in writing at the informal fact-finding hearing held under § 45.2-1637 leading to the appealed decision.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-325; 1984, c. 590; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.36; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1639. (Effective October 1, 2021) Persons required to register; designated agents.

A. Any person who owns a well, drills a well, completes well work, operates any well or gathering pipeline, conducts ground-disturbing geophysical explorations, or transports gas or oil up to and including the first point of sale shall register with the Director and shall provide his name and address and the name, address, and official title of the person in charge of his operations in the Commonwealth.

B. Any person registering under subsection A shall designate the name and address of an agent who shall be the attorney-in-fact of the registrant for the purposes set forth in this section. The designated agent shall be a resident of the Commonwealth. Notices, orders, other communications, and all processes issued pursuant to this chapter may be served upon or otherwise delivered to the designated agent as and for the operator. Any designation of an agent shall remain in force until the Director is notified in writing of a designation termination and the designation of a new agent.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.37; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1640. (Effective October 1, 2021) Report of permitted activities and production required; contents.

A. Each holder of a permit for a gas or oil well or gathering pipeline shall file monthly and annual reports of his activities as prescribed by the Director. Such reports shall be for the purpose of obtaining information regarding the production and sale of gas and oil resources, as well as information concerning the ownership and control of permitted activities. Filing of such reports by a permittee shall be a condition of such permit. Every annual report filed by a permittee shall contain a certification that such permittee has paid all severance taxes levied under the provisions of §§ 58.1-3712, 58.1-3713, and 58.1-3741.

B. At the same time that a permittee files the monthly and annual reports as required by subsection A, the permittee shall send copies of the reports by mail to the commissioner of the revenue of the political subdivision where the permitted well is located.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.38; 1992, c. 361; 2013, cc. 305, 618; 2016, c. 305; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1641. (Effective October 1, 2021) Developing a gas or oil well as a water well.

If any well drilled for gas or oil does not produce commercial or paying quantities of either resource, the well may be developed as a water well upon the request of the surface owner of the property on which the well is located. Any such development of a water well shall occur only after notice is given to the Director and his approval has been received. Such development of a water well shall be performed in accordance with applicable state and local requirements. Unless the gas or oil operator and surface owner otherwise agree, the surface owner shall pay the gas or oil operator a reasonable sum for all casing and tubing set and left in the well that would have otherwise been removed upon plugging of the well.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-350; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.39; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1642. (Effective October 1, 2021) Orphaned Well Fund; orphaned wells.

A. There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Orphaned Well Fund, referred to in this section as "the Fund." All moneys appropriated to it and any surcharges collected pursuant to subsection D shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys from the Fund shall be used solely for purposes of restoration and plugging of orphaned wells. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Director or his designee.

B. The Director shall conduct a survey to determine the condition and location of orphaned wells in the Commonwealth. He shall establish priorities for the plugging and restoration of the identified orphaned wells. The plugging and restoration of orphaned well sites that pose an imminent danger to public safety shall have the highest priority.

C. In performing his duties under this section, the Director shall make every reasonable effort to identify and obtain the permission of a surface owner prior to entering onto the surface owner's land. In all cases, the Director shall as soon as practicable cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city wherein an orphaned well is located a notice of the proposed plugging and restoration work to be conducted on the property.

D. Each operator who applies for a new permit for any activity other than geophysical operations shall pay a $200 surcharge per permit into the Fund. Such surcharge shall continue until the Director determines that all orphaned wells in the Commonwealth are properly plugged and their sites are properly stabilized.

E. In the event of a discontinuance of the Fund, any amounts remaining in the Fund shall be placed in the Gas and Oil Plugging Restoration Fund created pursuant to § 45.2-1634.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.40; 2017, c. 18; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1643. (Effective October 1, 2021) Interference by injection wells with groundwater supply.

A. For purposes of this section:

"Beneficial use" means the same as that term is defined in § 62.1-255.

"Groundwater" means the same as that term is defined in § 62.1-255.

B. Any person who owns or operates an injection well in a manner that proximately causes the contamination or diminution of groundwater used for a beneficial use by any person who resides within the lesser of (i) the area of review required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the permitting of such injection well or (ii) a one-half-mile radius of the well shall provide the person with a replacement water supply. A replacement water supply shall provide the person with water of equivalent quality and quantity as was provided by groundwater prior to the contamination or diminution of the water supply resulting from the operation of the injection well. A replacement water supply shall include the provision of necessary storage and service facilities.

C. This section shall apply to any injection well operating under a permit from the Director.

1992, c. 324, § 45.1-361.41; 1993, c. 276; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1644. (Effective October 1, 2021) Safety in coalbed methane gas, oil, and geophysical operations.

The Director shall inspect permitted coalbed methane well and related facility operations to ensure the safety of persons on permitted sites. If an inspection reveals any hazardous condition that creates an imminent danger, the Director shall issue a closure order pursuant to § 45.2-1629 requiring the area to be cleared or the equipment removed from use, except for (i) work necessary to continue to vent methane from an active underground mine if such work can be done safely and (ii) any work necessary to correct or eliminate the imminent danger. The Director shall lift the closure order when he finds that the imminent danger has been corrected or eliminated. If an inspection reveals any other condition that creates a risk to the safety or health of any person on the permitted site, the Director shall notify the Department of Labor and Industry for actions under Title 40.1, as applicable.

1997, c. 421, § 45.1-361.42; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.