An environmental group and an oil and gas industry lobbying group are both praising a bill that passed the House that would streamline the process of capping some 600 old, unused wells that don’t have owners. And they also want more money put toward that process.
The Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association say the bill will triple the money set aside for capping those so-called “orphan” wells. Tom Stewart with the Oil and Gas Association says that’s needed, noting $62 million in severance tax revenue was transferred out of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in recent years. “That includes paying for lawsuits unrelated to oil and gas development and budget transfers to other funds. The budget director said that severance tax should be used to pay for issues such as Medicaid,” Stewart said.
Budget director Tim Keen says that money helped balance the budget and paid settlements in two lawsuits involving ODNR, but that there’s plenty of money in the oil and gas fund for orphan wells and other needs.