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Teel v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20230
Nos. 5:11CV5, (N.D. W. Va., 10/25/2012)

A district court dismissed a landowner's trespass claim against an energy company for waste stemming from natural gas drilling operations on the property. The company owns the mineral rights underlying the land. As part of its drilling operations, the company deposited drilling waste and other material in pits on the landowners' property, and the landowner argued that the company's use of pits is a trespass. But under West Virginia law, the owner of subsurface rights to a parcel of property has the right to use the surface of the land in such a manner and with such means as would be fairly necessary for the enjoyment of the subsurface estate. Here, the company's use of the land was fairly necessary to the extraction of the natural gas. The existence of closed-loop system as an alternative did not render the company's use of the pits unreasoanble.