Enviromentalists and Drillers Back a Bill to Triple Money to Cap Orphan Wells

Jan 24, 2018

An oil well in western Coshocton County, Ohio.
Credit James St. John / creativecommons.org

An environmental group and an oil and gas industry lobbying group are both praising a bill that passed the Ohio House that would streamline the process of capping some 600 old, unused wells that don’t have owners. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports they also want more money put toward that process.

The Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association say the bill will triple the money set aside for capping those so-called “orphan” wells. Tom Stewart with the Oil and Gas Association says that’s needed, noting $62 million in severance tax revenue was transferred out of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in recent years.

“That includes paying for lawsuits unrelated to oil and gas development and budget transfers to other funds. The budget director said that severance tax should be used to pay for issues such as Medicaid.”

Budget Director Tim Keen says that money helped balance the budget and paid settlements in two lawsuits involving the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but insisted there’s plenty of money in the oil and gas fund for orphan wells and other needs.

The Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association say the bill will triple the money set aside for capping those so-called “orphan” wells. Tom Stewart with the Oil and Gas Association says that’s needed, noting $62 million in severance tax revenue was transferred out of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in recent years.