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Pub.L. 105-368 To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services ...


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[[Page 112 STAT. 3313]]

Public Law 105-367
105th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To protect the sanctity of contracts and leases entered into by surface 
  patent holders with respect to coalbed methane gas. <<NOTE: Nov. 10, 
                          1998 -  [S. 2500]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 30 USC 81 note.>>  PROTECTION OF SANCTITY OF 
                            CONTRACTS AND LEASES OF SURFACE PATENT 
                            HOLDERS WITH RESPECT TO COALBED 
                            METHANE GAS.

    (a) In General.--Subject to subsection (b), the United States shall 
recognize as not infringing upon any ownership rights of the United 
States to coalbed methane any--
            (1) contract or lease covering any land that was conveyed by 
        the United States under the Act entitled ``An Act for the 
        protection of surface rights of entrymen'', approved March 3, 
        1909 (30 U.S.C. 81), or the Act entitled ``An Act to provide for 
        agricultural entries on coal lands'', approved June 22, 1910 (30 
        U.S.C. 83 et seq.), that was--
                    (A) entered into by a person who has title to said 
                land derived under said Acts, and
                    (B) that conveys rights to explore for, extract, and 
                sell coalbed methane from said land; or
            (2) coalbed methane production from the lands described in 
        subsection (a)(1) by a person who has title to said land and 
        who, on or before the date of enactment of this Act, has filed 
        an application with the State oil and gas regulating agency for 
        a permit to drill an oil and gas well to a completion target 
        located in a coal formation.

    (b) Application.--Subsection (a)--
            (1) shall apply only to a valid contract or lease described 
        in subsection (a) that is in effect on the date of enactment of 
        this Act;
            (2) shall not otherwise change the terms or conditions of, 
        or affect the rights or obligations of any person under such a 
        contract or lease;
            (3) shall apply only to land with respect to which the 
        United States is the owner of coal reserved to the United States 
        in a patent issued under the Act of March 3, 1909 (30 U.S.C. 
        81), or the Act of June 22, 1910 (30 U.S.C. 83 et seq.), the 
        position of the United States as the owner of the coal not 
        having passed to a third party by deed, patent or other 
        conveyance by the United States;
            (4) shall not apply to any interest in coal or land 
        conveyed, restored, or transferred by the United States to a 
        federally recognized Indian tribe, including any conveyance, 
        restoration,

[[Page 112 STAT. 3314]]

        or transfer made pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act, June 
        18, 1934 (c. 576, 48 Stat. 984, as amended); the Act of June 28, 
        1938 (c. 776, 52 Stat. 1209 as implemented by the order of 
        September 14, 1938, 3 Fed. Reg. 1425); and including the area 
        described in section 3 of Public Law 98-290; or any executive 
        order;
            (5) shall not be construed to constitute a waiver of any 
        rights of the United States with respect to coalbed methane 
        production that is not subject to subsection (a); and
            (6) shall not limit the right of any person who entered into 
        a contract or lease before the date of enactment of this Act, or 
        enters into a contract or lease on or after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, for coal owned by the United States, to 
        mine and remove the coal and to release coalbed methane without 
        liability to any person referred to in subsection (a)(1)(A) or 
        (a)(2).

    Approved November 10, 1998.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 2500:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

SENATE REPORTS: No. 105-408 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 144 (1998):
            Oct. 9, considered and passed Senate.
            Oct. 15, considered and passed House.

                                  <all>

Pages: 1

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