Hold oil and gas companies accountable to clean up their messes
The crisis of orphaned oil and gas wells is growing across the West, and you're on the hook to clean it up.
The Bureau of Land Management is poised to make a long-overdue update to its rules requiring oil and gas companies to put up more money for cleanup before they drill. These reclamation bonds are strong incentives for oil and gas operators to plug and reclaim old wells when they're depleted. The rules haven't been updated since 1960, and they're outrageously out-of-step with the costs of reclaiming modern wells that may be miles deep. For decades, we've watched the low bonding rate incentivise companies to walk away from their obligations once wells stop producing. Millions of wells sit unplugged, leaking deadly chemicals into groundwater and methane into the air. The new rules will help ensure that modern wells are cleaned up and don't add to the list of orphaned wells.
Powerful oil and gas interests are already fighting these new protections. We need you speak up in support of these new rules to ensure that to ensure that these common sense safeguards aren't weakened.
ACT NOW: Today, we have the chance to ensure that oil and gas companies pay to clean up the messes they make, and taxpayers aren't left holding the bag. Leave a comment for BLM supporting their new oil and gas rules!
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Dear Director Stone-Manning,
I appreciate the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) taking this common-sense step to implement increased bond amounts found in the Fluid Mineral Leases and Leasing Process. The new rules will likely alleviate the financial burden that has been placed on taxpayers for far too long. In the West we understand that fossil fuel development will continue for some time; we also understand that without proper oversight, we'll be left with the responsibility to clean up the mess. BLM's current rules fail to ensure that reclamation occurs in a complete way, and oil and gas companies have proven time and time again that without the proper incentive, they will abandon or sell their wells before cleaning them up.
For decades, the lack of sufficient reclamation bonds and oversight has left communities throughout the West to bear many impacts of oil and gas production, including many impacts that could have been avoided or mitigated. Many westerners live and often farm or ranch on land that overlies federal minerals. If they don't own the mineral rights, they often don't have any say in how oil companies use their property. When, as often happens, the companies orphan their wells or file for bankruptcy, the remaining infrastructure impedes ranching and other uses of the land. Unreclaimed wells can also leak toxic chemicals into groundwater, or damage the land. This often leads to a loss in livelihoods in the case of farmers and ranchers, or degraded health in the cases of rural communities.
I urge BLM to swiftly and effectively implement this common-sense rule to ensure communities like mine are protected from preventable harms from current and future oil and gas development.