Law Prof Writes About Challenges of Surface v Mineral Rights in WV

A West Virginia law professor and one of his students (who went on to become a trial attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Justice), have just published a research paper on the topic of surface and mineral rights in the Mountain State. The paper, titled “Horizontal Drilling Vertical Problems: Property Law Challenges from the Marcellus Shale Boom” (full copy below) discusses property law challenges that can impede business development and negatively impact landowners and mineral owners in shale regions, with a focus on the West Virginia Marcellus. The paper explains the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing process. A widespread problem in WV is that (because of coal) in many cases the owners of the mineral rights under the ground are not the same people who own the property on the surface. The paper makes the point that while courts can handle one-off cases, the WV legislature should develop better “large-scale policies” to deal with an ongoing, contentious situation…

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