Insufficient bonds to ensure cleanup of wellsites is a particular concern in Wyoming, petitioners say, where federal minerals make up the bulk of production.
WYOFILE — Conservation and taxpayer advocacy groups filed a petition Wednesday asking the Interior Department and U.S. Bureau of Land Management to make good on promises to reform reclamation bonding requirements that help ensure the cleanup of oil and natural gas production facilities.
Current minimum federal bond requirements are not nearly enough to cover the actual cost of cleanup to protect human health and the environment, leaving local residents to suffer the consequences and taxpayers to foot the bill, according to the groups. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $4.7 billion to clean up abandoned oil and gas facilities — a gift to the oil and gas industry that should not continue with future development, they say.
“Taxpayers should simply not be on the hook for dealing with these messes,” Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Policy Advocate Josh Axelrod said in a prepared statement.
The petition filed by NRDC, Western Organization of Resource Councils and Taxpayers for Common Sense asks the federal agencies to “promulgate rules to ensure oil and gas companies — not the public and taxpayers — are the responsible parties to plug and reclaim all federal oil and gas wells,” the groups stated in the petition.
“Taxpayers have bailed out the richest industry on Earth with over $4 billion in taxpayer monies allocated to pay for the plugging and reclamation of orphaned and idle oil and gas wells,” Powder River Basin Resource Council former Executive Director Jill Morrison told reporters at a live-streamed press conference Wednesday. “These are wells that have given the industry billions of dollars in profits, and a lot of it from public minerals.”