Pennsylvania collects very little when it permits private companies to tap the commonwealth’s fossil fuels. If the well owner goes bankrupt, who pays to close the well?
Well, Damn[from NumLock News]
When an oil and gas extraction company goes belly up, they can leave behind wells that will seep methane and other hydrocarbons into the atmosphere for decades to come, if not longer. In the past five years, 207 such businesses failed in the United States, leaving the states holding the bag in terms of plugging the wells, and 190 more companies could file for bankruptcy by 2022. There are 3.2 million deserted oil and gas wells in the United States and 29 million globally. Until very recently scientists did not incorporate those abandoned wells into their greenhouse gas estimates, but that turned out to be a mistake, as post-abandonment the wells are leaking some of the worst emissions possible. A study of 88 abandoned wells in Pennsylvania found 90 percent leaked methane, a measurement of 43 wells in Texas found significant leaks in 28, and in the U.K. researchers found methane emissions in 30 percent of 102 wells checked. Plugging a well — clearing it of any obstructions and then filling it with cement — can cost $20,000 to $145,000, and for a modern shale well the cost can hit $300,000. If companies see the red ink of filling a well exceeds the black gold coming out of it, they can just abandon it in bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers holding the bag and a massive legal mess in their methane-choked wake.
It must be mighty tempting to those energy moguls to drain away all the liquid assets and then declare bankruptcy.
Nothing good comes of fracking.