Orphaned oil wells

Orphaned oil wells are oil and gas wells that have been abandoned by defunct companies that cannot pay to plug them and restore drilling sites. The EPA estimates that there are more than 2 million unplugged abandoned wells in the United States, many of which leak methane into the air and groundwater and pose serious public health risks – especially to rural, Tribal and communities of color. By law, when oil and gas operators cease production, an inactive well must be cleaned up (reclaimed) by the operator. The Bureau of Land Management requires operators to post bonds to cover the costs of any reclamation work before they can start drilling on federal lands. However, the amount of these bonds is often insufficient, forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of reclaiming abandoned wells. According to a 2019 GAO report, 84% of bonds, covering 99.5% of wells, are insufficient to cover reclamation costs which are estimated to be at least $46.2 million. It warned that many more wells are at risk of becoming orphaned in coming years due to bankruptcies, as oil prices struggle to recover from historic lows after the pandemic crushed global fuel demand.

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act budgeted $21 billion in environmental remediation that includes cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mine land, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. However, this amount is insufficient to remediate all our orphaned oil wells.

Proposed Legislation: Reintroduction of H.R.2415 - Orphaned Well Cleanup and Jobs Act of 2021
Prospective Sponsor: Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM)

Issue Suggestions

Suggest an important issue not listed in this sub-category (). (Maximum 60 Characters)

Poll Opening Date
May 22, 2023
Poll Closing Date
May 28, 2023

Democracy Rules respects the privacy of your information.