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Mineral rights royalties poorly monitored in Virginia

A series by the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier exposed problems with Virginia's mineral rights leasing program. Landowners have been forced to lease their mineral rights to private companies with the promise of royalties in return. "But instead of reaching the pockets of mineral owners, the money is funneled into an opaque state-run escrow fund, where it has accumulated with scant oversight for nearly 20 years. As of October, the fund held more than $24 million – and that isn’t everything it should hold."  The state has failed to monitor the companies' compliance with the escrow and the Herald Courier found that payments were often not made during periods when wells were producing gas.

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