As the oil industry faces a downturn, unplugged oil and gas wells present significant environmental and financial challenges, potentially burdening taxpayers with the cleanup bill.
- More than 2 million unplugged wells across the U.S. pose environmental hazards and contribute significantly to climate change through methane emissions.
- The financial provisions for well cleanup cover less than 2% of the estimated costs, leaving a substantial financial burden on taxpayers.
- Regulatory loopholes and insufficient enforcement allow companies to evade cleanup responsibilities, exacerbating the problem.
"The data presents an urgent call to action for state regulators and the Department of the Interior to swiftly and effectively update bond amounts."
— Shannon Anderson, organizing director of the Powder River Basin Resource Council
Why this matters:
The environmental and financial fallout from unplugged oil and gas wells affects public health and climate change indicating a pressing need for policy reforms to protect both the environment and taxpayer interests. Lax oversight and accounting sleights-of-hand help to make passing the buck on abandoned oil and gas wells a persistent and pernicious burden on the public good.