Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 6. Coal Mining Property, Interests, Adjacent Owners, and Dams
4/23/2024

Article 3. Emergency Seizure of Coal Property by the Commonwealth.

§ 45.2-608. "Public uses" defined; mining, etc., of coal essential business; subject to seizure by Commonwealth.

A. As used in this article, "public uses" means the mining, production, or marketing of coal for the purpose of providing and furnishing heat or power to the people of the Commonwealth.

B. Any person engaged in the business of the mining, production, or marketing of coal, any portion of which is customarily used in the manufacture of heat or power, is hereby declared to be engaged in a business essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. Under the conditions and in the manner set forth in this article, such business may be seized and operated by the Commonwealth, or any agency created and organized for such purpose, for public uses.

Code 1950, § 45-145; 1950, p. 29; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-145, 45.1-146; 1994, c. 28, §§ 45.1-161.312, 45.1-161.313; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-609. Interruption of public uses; proclamation of emergency; seizure.

When in the judgment of the Governor there exists a substantial interruption or an imminent threat of a substantial interruption of public uses, he shall proclaim that an emergency exists in the Commonwealth that endangers the health, safety, and welfare of its people and the enjoyment of the public and private property within its borders. It shall then be the duty of the Governor to seize and operate the property of any person used in the mining, production, or marketing of coal that the Governor deems essential for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 45-147; 1950, p. 30; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-147; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.314; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-610. Additional powers of Governor to operate seized properties.

The Governor may exercise the powers and authority to possess and operate for public uses any person's property used in the mining, production, or marketing of coal in the manner provided in this article.

Code 1950, § 45-148; 1950, p. 30; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-148; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.315; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-611. Virginia Fuel Commission; purpose; membership; compensation; staff; powers and duties; report.

A. The Virginia Fuel Commission (the Commission) may be established by the Governor as a supervisory commission in the executive branch of state government. The purpose of the Commission is to act for and on behalf of the Governor in the enforcement of the powers and duties set forth in this article.

B. The Commission shall have a total membership of three nonlegislative citizen members who are residents of the Commonwealth. Each member of the Commission shall be appointed to serve at the pleasure of the Governor, and any vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. One member of the Commission shall be designated by the Governor as chairman. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum. The meetings of the Commission shall be held at the call of the Governor or the chairman.

C. Members shall receive such compensation for the performance of their duties as fixed by the Governor. Funding for the costs of compensation and expenses of the members shall be provided by the Department.

D. The Department shall provide staff support to the Commission. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Commission, upon request.

E. The Commission, subject to the approval of the Governor, shall have, in addition to the powers and duties incident to this article that the Governor delegates to it, the power and duty to:

1. Adopt such regulations and issue such orders as are, in the judgment of the Commission, necessary to accomplish in full the purposes of this article. Such regulations and orders shall have the force and effect of law, and the violation thereof is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor;

2. Appoint and employ such officers and personnel as are, in its judgment, required to carry out the provisions of this article; remove, in its discretion, any and all persons serving thereunder; and fix, subject to approval by the Governor, the remuneration of all such officers and other personnel. Such personnel shall work subject to such safety provisions as are in force on the property at the time of acquisition;

3. Acquire under the power of eminent domain, or by purchase, lease, or otherwise, all of the property of any person used in the business of the mining, production, or marketing of coal, including all lands, tipples, mines, ores, rights-of-way, leaseholds, and every character and type of equipment deemed by the Commission necessary or incidental to the continuous mining and production of coal;

4. Operate, manage, and control any property so acquired; purchase coal, coke, or other fuel and sell such fuel, either at retail or at wholesale; enter into contracts; allocate and provide for the distribution of coal and other fuels so as to ensure a distribution deemed most likely to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth; and do any and all things necessary and incidental to the mining, production, or marketing of coal; and

5. In any year in which the Commission meets, submit an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly for publication as a report document as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports. In any year in which the Commission meets, the chairman shall submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an annual executive summary of the interim activity and work of the Commission no later than the first day of the next regular session of the General Assembly. The executive summary shall be submitted as a report document as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports and shall be posted on the General Assembly's website.

Code 1950, §§ 45-149, 45-156; 1950, pp. 30, 33; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-149, 45.1-156; 1994, c. 28, §§ 45.1-161.316, 45.1-161.317; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-612. Negotiating purchase or lease of coal properties.

Whenever the Governor proclaims that an emergency exists under this article and appoints the Virginia Fuel Commission pursuant to § 45.2-611, the Commission shall make a bona fide attempt to negotiate the purchase or lease of the coal property of any person engaged in the mining, production, or marketing of coal as the Commission deems necessary to accomplish the purposes of this article. However, where such negotiations cannot be promptly made due to the incapacity of the owner of the property, or for any other reason, the Commission is not required to attempt to negotiate for the acquisition of such property.

Code 1950, § 45-150; 1950, p. 31; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-150; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.319; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-613. Proceedings for condemnation.

A. Proceedings for condemnation pursuant to this article shall be instituted and conducted in the name of the Commission, and the procedure shall, except as altered by the provisions of this article, be carried out as provided in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1.

B. The proceedings for condemnation shall be by petition to the circuit court of the county or city in which the land, property, or property right, or the major portion thereof sought to be temporarily acquired, is located. The petition shall set forth with reasonable particularity a description and designation of the interest, right, or property intended to be temporarily taken, the name of the owner of the interest, right, or property that is to be taken or affected and such other facts as the Commission deems necessary to give adequate information to the court and all persons in interest. The petition shall be verified by oath by a member of the Commission.

C. Upon (i) the filing of the petition described in subsection B in the office of the clerk of the circuit court to which it is addressed, together with as many copies thereof as there are defendants upon which it is to be served, and (ii) the depositing with the clerk for the custody of the court, and for the benefit of the owners of the property taken or affected, an amount of money that the Commission estimates to be just compensation for the property temporarily taken and any damage done, the Commission shall thereupon seize and take possession, custody, and control of the property. The amount of money deposited pursuant to clause (ii) shall not limit the amount of just compensation to be allowed to the owner of the property. The service of such petition upon the defendant shall be made in the manner prescribed by the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia with respect to Practice and Procedure in Civil Actions in effect at the time the petition is filed.

Code 1950, § 45-151; 1950, p. 31; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-151; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.320; 2003, c. 940; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-614. Expense of acquiring and operating coal property; funds derived from operation.

The expense of acquiring and operating any property acquired under this article shall be paid out of moneys transferred from the general fund that are not otherwise appropriated. Such transfer shall be made upon such authorization as the Governor prescribes and shall be credited to the account of the Commission, and all funds and revenues derived from or received as a result of such operations shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the same account. Any amount transferred upon authorization of the Governor from the general fund shall be designated as the "Capital Account" of the Commission. Such amount, or the residue thereof, together with any surplus that accrues, shall be returned to the general fund in the event of liquidation or, in the absence of liquidation, in such installments and at such times as the Governor prescribes.

Code 1950, § 45-152; 1950, p. 32; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-152; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.321; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-615. Restoration of property to owner or operator.

A. Whenever (i) the owner or operator engaged in the business of the mining, production, or marketing of coal whose property has been acquired by the Commission notifies the Commission in writing that he can and will resume operation and render normal service, and satisfies the Commission of the correctness of such notice, or (ii) in the judgment of the Governor, the emergency declared by him no longer exists, the Commission shall restore the possession of the property so acquired by it to such owner or operator upon his request. In the event the Commission refuses such restoration of possession, the owner or operator shall have the right to have a ruling issued requiring the Commission to show cause why such possession shall not be restored, and the court shall determine the matter as provided in this section.

B. Any such owner or operator shall be entitled to receive reasonable, proper, and lawful compensation for the use of the property acquired by the Commonwealth pursuant to this article and shall be paid such compensation out of the state treasury. In the event the Commission has acquired such property by purchase, the owner or operator from whom it was acquired shall, upon reacquisition, repay the purchase price less fair compensation for the use of such property. In the event the Commission and the owner or operator are unable to agree upon the amount of such compensation, either party in interest may file a petition in the circuit court for the county or city in which the property is located for the purpose of having the amount of compensation judicially determined. The court shall, without a jury, hear such evidence and argument of counsel as it deems appropriate and (i) render judgment thereon or (ii) refer to a commissioner such questions as are considered proper and act upon the commissioner's report as in any other civil proceeding. An appeal shall lie to the Court of Appeals from any final judgment of the court rendered upon the provisions of this article.

Code 1950, § 45-153; 1950, p. 32; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-153; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.322; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 387, 489.

§ 45.2-616. Article subject to provisions of general law.

The provisions of this article are subject to all of the provisions of general law applicable to coal mining operations.

Code 1950, § 45-154; 1950, p. 33; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-154; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.318; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.