Digging Deeper Investigation | Underfoot, Out of Reach
Publication Type:Newspaper Article
Source:TriCities.com, Online (2009)
Daniel Gilbert. "Underfoot, Out of Reach: A series on the conflicts over Southwest Virginia's natural gas wealth." Virginia Tri-Cities.com. (online).
Beneath the surface of seven Southwest Virginia counties lie pools of natural gas worth more than a billion dollars a year. Some of this gas belongs to landowners forced by the state to lease their mineral rights to private energy corporations to develop. But instead of putting royalties into the pockets of mineral owners, the state funnels thousands of dollars every month into an escrow fund that royalty owners cannot monitor or access without clearing enormous legal hurdles.
While the system has vastly expanded production of natural gas in Virginia, it has devoted scant resources to ensuring that companies make the required payments into escrow, which in recent years has ballooned to more than $24 million. The result is that companies can produce gas for years without ever filing the necessary paperwork for royalties to be escrowed, and virtually no one notices that hundreds of individual accounts in escrow each month receive no deposits even though the corresponding gas wells are producing gas, a Bristol Herald Courier investigation finds.
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Do I have money in escrow? How to use our database and determine if you may have money in escrow.
Search our Database for information on escrow accounts, with balances each month, current to March 2010.
See: Tom Vanderbilt. "Paper Trail." Time. Feb. 14, 2011.