I want to commend the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) for their leadership regarding the problem of Montana’s orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells. BOGC recently applied for $25 million in federal grants funding made available through the bipartisan infrastructure package.
As a Northern Plains Resource Council member, I work alongside fellow members across the state on this issue, and we are hopeful that adequate funds will be awarded to help plug Montana’s almost 300 abandoned wells found on farms, ranches, public recreation lands, backyards, and near densely populated subdivisions. Wells become orphaned when oil and gas companies declare bankruptcy or cease to exist after drilling minerals. Too often, they leave town before properly remediating, presenting dangers to the community.
Toxic pollutants including benzene and arsenic leak into soil and groundwater causing serious health risks and environmental damage. The biggest concern to health and safety is the amount of methane pollution emitted by these wells. This odorless gas can cause nausea, vomiting, and convulsions in the short term. In extreme cases, long term exposure can be fatal.
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So, thank you, BOGC, for taking this important step to help make Montana communities more safe for everyone.