Martin v. Hamblet

Decision Date21 November 2012
Docket NumberNo. 11–1157.,11–1157.
Citation230 W.Va. 183,737 S.E.2d 80
CourtWest Virginia Supreme Court
PartiesJames MARTIN, in his Official Capacity as Director, Office of Oil and Gas, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; Office of Oil and Gas, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; and EQT Production Company, Petitioners v. Matthew L. HAMBLET, Respondent West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization, Intervenor.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Syllabus by the Court

1. “The appellate standard of review of questions of law answered and certified by a circuit court is de novo. Syllabus Point 1, Gallapoo v. Wal–Mart Stores, Inc., 197 W.Va. 172, 475 S.E.2d 172 (1996).

2. “The primary rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the Legislature.” Syllabus Point 8, Vest v. Cobb, 138 W.Va. 660, 76 S.E.2d 885 (1953).

3. “A statutory provision which is clear and unambiguous and plainly expresses the legislative intent will not be interpreted by the courts but will be given full force and effect.” Syllabus Point 2, State v. Epperly, 135 W.Va. 877, 65 S.E.2d 488 (1951).

4. “In the interpretation of statutory provisions the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another, applies.” Syllabus Point 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984).

5. Statutes which relate to the same subject matter should be read and applied together so that the Legislature's intention can be gathered from the whole of the enactments.” Syllabus Point 3, Smith v. State Workmen's Compensation Comm'r, 159 W.Va. 108, 219 S.E.2d 361 (1975).

6. The right of judicial review with regard to the issuance or refusal of a well work permit as provided by W. Va.Code § 22–6–41 (1994) (Repl. Vol. 2009) does not extend to owners of the surface rights of the property upon which the proposed well is to be drilled. To the extent that State ex rel. Lovejoy v. Callaghan, 213 W.Va. 1, 576 S.E.2d 246 (2002), indicates otherwise, it is overruled.

7. The right of judicial review with regard to the issuance or refusal of a well work permit as provided by W. Va.Code § 22–6–40 (1994) (Repl. Vol. 2009) does not extend to owners of the surface rights of the property upon which the proposed well is to be drilled.

8. “Where the Legislature has prescribed limitations on the right to appeal, such limitations are exclusive, and cannot be enlarged by the court.” State v. De Spain, 139 W.Va. 854, [857,] 81 S.E.2d 914, 916 (1954).’ Syllabus Point 1, West Virginia Department of Energy v. Hobet Mining & Construction Co., 178 W.Va. 262, 358 S.E.2d 823 (1987).” Syllabus Point 2, Crea v. Crea, 222 W.Va. 388, 664 S.E.2d 729 (2008).

Joseph L. Jenkins, Esq., Senior Counsel, Paul R. Pichardo, Esq., Associate Counsel, Office of Legal Services, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Charleston, WV, for James Martin and Office of Oil and Gas, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Richard L. Gottlieb, Esq., Valerie H. Raupp, Esq., Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins, PLLC, Charleston, WV, for EQT Production Company.

Cynthia J.T. Loomis, Esq., West Union, WV, and Isak J. Howell, Esq., Lewisburg, WV, for Matthew L. Hamblet.

David McMahon, Esq., Charleston, WV, for Intervenor, West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization.

Thomas J. Hurney, Jr., Esq., Kenneth E. Tawney, Esq., Jackson Kelly PLLC, Charleston, WV, for Amicus Curiae, West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

George A. Patterson, III, Esq., H. Hampton Rose, IV, Esq., Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, LLP, Charleston, WV, for Amicus Curiae, Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia.

WORKMAN, Justice:

The Circuit Court of Doddridge County, West Virginia, has certified the following question to this Court:

Does the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeal's [sic] opinion in State ex rel. Lovejoy v. Callaghan, 576 S.E.2d 246, 213 W.Va. 1 (2002) interpret the relevant statutes, when read in para materia, to permit a surface owner to seek judicial review of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Oil and Gas's issuance of a well work permit for a horizontal Marcellus well?

Upon consideration and review of Lovejoy and the relevant statutes, this Court answers the certified question in the negative.

I. FACTS

EQT Production Company (hereinafter EQT), one of the petitioners herein, is the lessee of a valid oil and gas lease executed in 1905 that encompasses 2,654 acres of mineral estate located in Doddridge County, West Virginia. The respondent herein, Matthew L. Hamblet, is the surface owner of a 442.6–acre parcel of property that is included within EQT's leasehold. On March 22, 2010, EQT filed a permit application with the Office of Oil and Gas of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (hereinafter DEP), also a petitioner herein,1 for its 513136 Lewis Maxwell well” (hereinafter the EQT well), a shallow well targeting the Marcellus formation with a “horizontal leg into the Marcellus.” As part of the permit application, EQT certified that the surface owners, including Mr. Hamblet, were sent notice of the application.

On April 7, 2010, Mr. Hamblet, by counsel, submitted surface owner comments to the DEP regarding the EQT well at issue. At least four other wells had already been permitted on Mr. Hamblet's property. According to Mr. Hamblet, the resulting damage and disturbance to his property was substantial. Mr. Hamblet's comments, therefore, concerned the damage to his property and his belief that the erosion and sediment control plan was inadequate. He also commented that the proximity of drilling waste surface water presented a failure to protect fresh water resources. He further noted EQT's previous failed attempts at revegetation and irresponsible handling of timber on his property.

On April 14, 2010, counsel for EQT submitted additional information in response to Mr. Hamblet's comments. Thereafter, the DEP conducted an inspection of the site to ensure compliance with all applicable permitting requirements. On April 22, 2010, the DEP issued the permit requested by EQT, finding that all the application requirements were satisfied.

Subsequently, on May 21, 2010, Mr. Hamblet filed a Petition for Appeal of Issuance of a Well Permit” in the Circuit Court of Doddridge County. On June 14, 2010, the DEP filed a motion to dismiss the petition contending that Mr. Hamblet did not have the right to appeal the issuance of the permit under any relevant statutory authority. EQT filed its motion to dismiss on October 26, 2010, and also joined in the motion filed by the DEP. The circuit court then held two hearing on the motions. The court denied the motions by order entered July 5, 2011, based on this Court's decision in State ex rel. Lovejoy v. Callaghan, 213 W.Va. 1, 576 S.E.2d 246 (2002), concluding that Mr. Hamblet has the right to appeal the permit, but granted the request of the DEP and EQT to submit its ruling to this Court via certified question. The order of certification was entered on August 10, 2011.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court has held that [t]he appellate standard of review of questions of law answered and certified by a circuit court is de novo. Syllabus Point 1, Gallapoo v. Wal–Mart Stores, Inc., 197 W.Va. 172, 475 S.E.2d 172 (1996). With this standard in mind, the parties' arguments will be considered.2

III. DISCUSSION

In order to answer the certified question presented, our statutory law pertaining to the issuance of well work permits must be applied and interpreted, as necessary, along with the decision in Lovejoy. Accordingly, our analysis begins with some basic rules of statutory construction. “The primary rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the Legislature.” Syllabus Point 8, Vest v. Cobb, 138 W.Va. 660, 76 S.E.2d 885 (1953). “A statutory provision which is clear and unambiguous and plainly expresses the legislative intent will not be interpreted by the courts but will be given full force and effect.” Syllabus Point 2, State v. Epperly, 135 W.Va. 877, 65 S.E.2d 488 (1951). In other words, [w]here the language of a statutory provision is plain, its terms should be applied as written and not construed.” DeVane v. Kennedy, 205 W.Va. 519, 529, 519 S.E.2d 622, 632 (1999). Accord Syllabus Point 5, State v. General Daniel Morgan Post No. 548, V.F.W., 144 W.Va. 137, 107 S.E.2d 353 (1959) (“When a statute is clear and unambiguous and the legislative intent is plain, the statute should not be interpreted by the courts, and in such case it is the duty of the courts not to construe but to apply the statute.”). Also, [i]n the interpretation of statutory provisions the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another, applies.” Syllabus Point 3, Manchin v. Dunfee, 174 W.Va. 532, 327 S.E.2d 710 (1984). Finally, it is important to note that [s]tatutes which relate to the same subject matter should be read and applied together so that the Legislature's intention can be gathered from the whole of the enactments.” Syllabus Point 3, Smith v. State Workmen's Compensation Comm'r, 159 W.Va. 108, 219 S.E.2d 361 (1975). Accord Syllabus Point 3, State ex rel. Graney v. Sims, 144 W.Va. 72, 105 S.E.2d 886 (1958) (Statutes in pari materia must be construed together and the legislative intention, as gathered from the whole of the enactments, must be given effect.”)

With the rules of statutory construction in mind, we now turn to the decision issued in Lovejoy. In that case, owners of the surface rights of a tract of land sought a writ of mandamus from this Court requiring the DEP to revoke a well permit that had already been issued for the drilling of a deep discovery well. By the time the petition for writ of mandamus was filed, the permit had already been released as the...

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    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • December 27, 2013
    ... ... Pt. 8, Vest v. Cobb, 138 W.Va. 660, 76 S.E.2d 885 (1953); Syl. Pt. 2, Martin v. Hamblet, 230 W.Va. 183, 737 S.E.2d 80 (2012). With particular application to this case, “it is this Court's duty ‘to avoid whenever possible ... ...
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    ... ... Thus, this Court finds the statute patently explicit, "admitting of no construction or application other than that which it clearly demands." Martin v. Ellisor, 266 S.C. 377, 223 S.E.2d 415, 418 (1976). We reject petitioners' reasoning because their reading of the statute is profoundly strained ... 505, 510, 759 S.E.2d 452, 457 (2014)(recognizing that statute is open to construction only where legislation is ambiguous); Martin v. Hamblet, 230 W.Va. 183, 187, 737 S.E.2d 80, 84 (2012)(finding that clear and unambiguous statutory provision will not be interpreted by courts). It is ... ...
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    ... ... Cobb, 138 W.Va. 660, 76 S.E.2d 885 (1953). Martin v. Hamblet, 230 W.Va. 183, 187, 737 S.E.2d 80, 84 (2012). 2 In assessing the work release statute, it is plain that the Legislature intended to ... ...
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1 books & journal articles
  • LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS IN 2012 AFFECTING THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION INDUSTRY
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    • FNREL - Journals Legal Developments in 2012 Affecting the Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Industry (FNREL)
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    ...(N.D. W. Va. 2012). [253] Memorandum Decision regarding leases (W.Va. 2012). [254] 140 W.Va. 745, 762, 86 S.E.2d 554, 564 (1955). [255] 230 W.Va. 183, 737 S.E.2d 80 (W. Va. 2012). [256] 576 S.E.2d 246, 213 W.Va. 1 (2002). [257] 2012 WL 5906649 (N.D.W.Va. filed November 26, 2012). [258] Wyo.......

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