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Plugging old oil wells in Pennsylvania


New Law Will Help Boost Plugging of Orphan Wells, Causer Says

HARRISBURG – Legislation that will help increase the number of orphan wells being plugged in the Commonwealth is now law, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), prime sponsor of the measure.

PA State Rep. Martin Causer

“Pennsylvania has at least 200,000 orphan wells, and some years the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is plugging as few as five,” Causer said. “This law gives us the chance to actually put a dent in this problem by using federal infrastructure money to accelerate our well-plugging efforts, benefitting both the environment and our communities.”

Act 96 of 2022 requires DEP to use a portion of new federal funding to create a grant program to support experienced well-plugging companies that work to maximize the volume of orphan wells being plugged in the Commonwealth. Grants of $10,000 will be awarded for plugging wells of 3,000 feet or less in depth, and grants of $20,000 will be awarded for plugging wells more than 3,000 feet deep.

Under the law, DEP is required to list wells eligible for plugging under the program. A well plugger will be eligible for funding if he or she has drilled 10 or more wells or plugged 10 or more wells in the state in accordance with oil and gas laws, or can demonstrate access to the equipment, materials, resources and services to plug wells in accordance with the law.

The law also will provide predictability for conventional well bonding amounts and make clear only the General Assembly may adjust these amounts for a period of 10 years.

The law takes effect immediately.

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