Description: Executive summary of the findings and recommendations of the ownership rights of coalbed methane and other natural gases under the Virginia Gas and Oil Act and opportunities to encourage production and use of natural gas in Virginia. In conducting the study, the Commission shall examine: (i) conditions affecting the ownership of coalbed methane, procedures related to "forced pooling," and any precedent established by the Ratliff v. Harrison-Wyatt decision; (ii) the process required to decide conflicting claims of ownership of coalbed methane; (iii) the availability of production and sales data from natural gas in Virginia; (iv) the extent to which the implementation of an alternate dispute resolution system would facilitate resolution of conflicting claims of ownership of coalbed methane; (v) methods for determining the rates of royalties, including the costs and expenses of coalbed methane gas production; (vi) the staffing required to effectively administer the Virginia Gas and Oil Act; (vii) possible amendments to the Virginia Gas and Oil Act, if necessary to facilitate the determination of ownership of coalbed methane and the distribution of proceeds held in escrow; (viii) ways in which to encourage production of this valuable natural resource; (ix) the actual and potential positive economic impact of the natural gas production industry in Virginia, including, but not limited to, the economic impact of royalty payments and severance taxes on localities, a prospective natural gas fired electric generation facility in Southwest Virginia, and potential development of infrastructure and investment in facilities that will allow for commercially viable natural gas vehicle refueling and for converting vehicles to clean burning natural gas; and (x) the potential for classifying coalbed methane gas as an alternative fuel and the benefits to the Commonwealth that may accrue therefrom.
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