West Virginia Law Review

Document Type

Student Work


In the past decade the search for new and alternative energy sources has brought to the forefront a number of legal problems which have restricted the ability of industry to produce certain resources. Coalbed gas is one potential energy source whose development has been significantly impeded by legal questions. Ironically, the technical problems in coalbed gas exploitation, which in the past appeared insurmountable, have become secondary to the more complicated ownership issue. The uncertainty surrounding the ownership of coalbed gas rights has hampered development of this vital energy source. Surface owners and gas lessees have attempted to lay claim to the lucrative exploitation rights of this fuel while coal owners have sought to protect their coal from the intrusions of coalbed gas development. The absence of effective legislative action and the continuing friction between competing commercial interests have further clouded the ownership question. The national search for energy has hastened the need for an answer to the ownership queston, which until recently, had never been addressed by an appellate court. The decision by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in United States Steel Corp. v. Hoge, is the first attempt by an appellate court to resolve the ownership issue.



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