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Bill to Boost Plugging of Orphan Wells Passes House, Causer Says

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HARRISBURG – The state House on Tuesday approved legislation that would help increase the number of orphan wells being plugged in the Commonwealth, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), prime sponsor of the measure.

“We have well over 200,000 orphan wells in Pennsylvania, and some years the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is plugging as few as five wells,” Causer said during debate in the House chamber. “With federal infrastructure money on the way to the Commonwealth, we finally have an opportunity to accelerate our well-plugging efforts, which will benefit both the environment and our communities.”

Watch Rep. Causer’s comments during House debate here:

While a majority of the federal funds would go into DEP’s existing program, House Bill 2644 would also require the agency to create a new initiative to provide grants to experienced well-plugging companies that work to maximize the volume of orphan wells being plugged in the Commonwealth.

Grants of $10,000 would be awarded for plugging wells of 3,000 feet or less in depth, and grants of $20,000 would be awarded for plugging wells more than 3,000 feet deep.

The bill also would address well bonding amounts by fixing the current bonding amounts for conventional wells that are in law and making it clear the Environmental Quality Board cannot adjust these amounts by regulation.

The House also approved House Bill 2528, which would boost the use of Pennsylvania-based businesses in the process of plugging wells.

The measures now go to the Senate for consideration.

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