To the Editor:
Working in the Ohio oil and gas industry for more than three decades, I see firsthand the importance of plugging orphan oil and gas wells. House Bill 225 was recently signed into law that addresses orphan wells. It is going to have substantial positive ramifications to everyone in our state.
The bipartisan bill is a win for the environment and a win for the oil and gas industry when it officially becomes law in September. State Representative Andy Thompson sponsored the bill and was a tireless advocate. Those within the industry appreciate and thank him for his successful efforts.
An orphan well is an oil or gas well that has no identifiable owner. Most of these wells were drilled decades ago, some in the 1800s. Those of us within the industry have recognized this issue and have long advocated for ramping up the Ohio’s plugging program. HB 225 requires the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to spend 30% of the Oil and Gas Well Fund’s resources on plugging orphan wells and requires ODNR to provide additional reporting on the number of wells plugged.
Plugging these wells under modern day standards is the most responsible use for these funds. It is the best thing we can do to protect our health, safety and the environment. In fact, House Bill 225 had broad support from not only the oil and gas industry, but also from Ohio’s agriculture community and environmental organizations. (Wish I could work in urban communities like Cleveland shoreline wells).
When this bill becomes law, the framework will be in place to increase the effectiveness and accountability of the state’s Orphan Well Program. The Ohio oil and gas industry stands ready to do our part to eliminate these old orphan wells and address this environmental issue for all Ohioans.