Lawmakers Push Bill to Help Orphan Well Plugging Program

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers are pushing a bill to increase funding for plugging abandoned oil and gas wells.

The Canton Repository reports the proposed law would target orphan wells that can cause pollution and even explode.

The state taps a fund consisting of taxes and fees from oil and gas companies to pay for well plugging. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says there are 733 orphan wells in Ohio, although the total is likely much higher.

The proposed measure calls for ODNR to increase the amount drawn from the fund from 14 percent to 45 percent. The bill would allow the agency to directly pay contractors, eliminating tax burdens on landowners who receive state grants to get wells plugged.

ODNR allocated $6 million this year for plugging operations.