HARGEISA, Pa. – Some environmental groups are publicly calling on Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Board to increase bonds to pay for drilling oil and gas wells.
The Sierra Club, Fresh Air Council and four other groups have filed two petitions for the board to take full charge of both oil and gas wells. Drillers currently pay only a fraction of the amount of bonds needed to clean and install methane leaks and reduce environmental hazards.
Ankit Jane, co-ordinator of the Sera Club’s environmental law program, said the increase was an important way to hold companies accountable for their impact on nearby communities.
“We want the amount of money you pay to plug the well to be the same as the amount of money needed to fix the well,” he said. “So now you have all the incentives to plug the well, because they will return that money at any time.
The groups are asking the board to increase the bond to $ 38,000 per standard well and $ 83,000 per fractional hole. Pennsylvania has more than 6,000 so-called “orphans” gas wells, hundreds of thousands still unaccounted for, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
According to a study by Stanford and Princeton Universities, 5% to 8% of all methane emissions in Pennsylvania are caused by abandoned oil and gas wells.
Alex Bomstein, attorney general for the Council of Fleet, said the pollution could have serious consequences for residents around good sites.
“Therefore, the consequences of exposure to toxins are the biggest and most unpredictable problem we all face,” he said. “
The State Environmental Protection Agency is required to return the complaints within 30 days as the board meets the legal requirements that take them into account.
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