Federal government to fund orphan well cleanup

1 year 1 month 2 weeks ago Thursday, February 03 2022 Feb 3, 2022 February 03, 2022 8:13 AM February 03, 2022 in News - Local

The federal government is spending money to seal abandoned gas wells. 

In the Valley, there’s a handful of what are considered “orphan wells." Technically, the state considers them non-compliant with the rules for at least a year. Often times, that means the owner went out of business and won't be coming around anymore.

A natural gas well in Linn-San Manuel, formerly operated by Saxum Oil and Gas, has been inactive for the last 10 years, according to the state.

"I want to say it's been at least a good ten years," said neighbor Maria Garza. "They used to come out often and I guess they would do something to try to get it going."

There are several wells like the one in Linn-San Manuel in all four Valley counties documented by the Texas Railroad Commission.

Congress is now allocating up to $4.7 billion to seal orphan wells. The first round of $1 billion, of which $343 million is available for Texas, was announced this week.

"They are polluting backyards, recreation areas, public spaces across the country,” said White House Senior Advisor Mitch Landrieu. “They're seeping into groundwater systems and leaking methane into air, and are contributing to our climate crisis."

The Texas Association of Counties reports bonds only covered about 1/6 of what it costs to plug wells. On average, it cost the Railroad Commission $17,000 to plug each well.

With more wells out there, the total cost to taxpayers could be $165 million more.

More News

7 Days