West Virginia’s Legislature Seeks to Give Coal Companies More Power Over Your Land

West Virginia’s Legislature Seeks to Give Coal Companies More Power Over Your Land

New legislative sessions always bring surprises, good and bad, for West Virginia residents.   We got a preview of one of those bad surprises a few weeks ago during pre-term interim meetings West Virginia law has long protected coal companies.  Unfortunately, many of those protections harm individual landowners and West Virginia residents. Recently the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals had ruled that while coal owners own broad rights under severance deeds which purport to limit their liability for land damage, that landowners, at least, had the option of deciding what would happen with their damaged property. 

The law, as written and interpreted by our Court, said that it was the landowner who could decide between having their home fixed or simply being paid the decrease in value caused by the damage.   The legislature will now be asked to approve changes to that rule which will change that.  The changes to the rule would allow the coal company to make that decision.   For example, if a coal company mined under your home and it would cost $200,000 to fix your home, but the decrease in value was only $60,000, the coal company could decide to pay you the $60,000 rather than fix your house.  That would leave you in $140,000 in the hole!    That is simply not right.   Almost nowhere else is the law can the person or company that caused you damage allowed to tell you how they will handle it.   This change in the law would be a tremendous pitfall for landowner and an unfair, inequitable windfall to coal companies.    Most of these companies are out of state owned.  

We need to let the legislature know that they should not be granting corporate windfalls at the expense of our citizens!   Please try to reach out to your representatives in the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates and let them know that these changes should not be made.


New legislative sessions always bring surprises, good and bad, for West Virginia residents.