This case study, prepared by the IOGCC, profiles several innovative programs used by IOGCC member states to address orphaned and abandoned wells. The states profiled include California, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Michigan.
States have been creative in finding ways to reduce the potential for adverse environmental impact by plugging thousands of orphaned wells. They also have conserved resources by encouraging the return of orphaned wells to production. Despite making headway, much more work is required before the danger posed by orphaned wells is history.
To ensure that the problem of orphaned wells remains a legacy from the past and not an ongoing problem, states have a variety of regulatory tools at their disposal to prevent premature abandonment of current and future wells. States work on a daily basis to ensure that wells are correctly plugged and abandoned and to identify orphan wells that may present a danger to the environment. Agencies quickly act to address any immediate threat that presents itself – regardless of ownership and liability issues. The process of identifying and remediating past problems will take time, but states are dedicating significant human and financial resources to ensure the protection of generations to come.
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