Pennsylvania Taxpayers Are Getting Drilled

Without regulation changes that would require full-cost bonding to cover the costs of plugging conventional and unconventional shale gas and oil wells in Pennsylvania, taxpayers will continue ‘getting fracked’ big time!

BOTTOM LINE: The bonding requirements for oil and gas producers in Pennsylvania are pitifully inadequate — only 7% of what they should be for conventional wells and only 12% of what they should be for unconventional wells — which continues to leave taxpayers on the hook for growing costs!
Photo: Old oil and gas well getting plugged near Hickory, Pa. after the hydraulic fracturing of a new Marcellus well ‘communicated’ with the 1902 well. A local farmer said foam was rising from the soil all over his nearby field.

The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is scheduled to meet Tuesday November 16, 2021 to consider rulemaking petitions to increase bonding on both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells. The petitions were submitted by the Sierra ClubClean Air CouncilEarthworksMountain Watershed AssociationPennFuture, and Protect Penn-Trafford.

$2,500 increased to $38,000
The current bond amount for conventional wells is $2,500 per conventional well, with the option to post a $25,000 blanket bond, which does not come close to full-cost bonding (These are the same amounts enacted in the 1984 Oil and Gas Act). The petition asks for conventional well bonds to be increased to $38,000 per well. DEP’s average conventional well plugging costs for an abandoned well are $33,000. (Source)
Click Here for a copy of the conventional well petition

Photo: You really have to wonder how many of these 1890-era oil wells in the city of Washington, Pa. were properly plugged.

UNCONVENTIONAL WELLS (Marcellus and Utica Shale)
$10,000 increased to $83,000
The current bond amount for unconventional wells is $10,000 adopted in 2012, with a blanket bonding system that greatly lowers the actual per-well amount, which also does not come close to full-cost bonding. The petition asks for unconventional well bonds to be increased to $83,000 per well. (Source)
Click Here for the unconventional (shale) well petition.

Image: Permitting document for a new well near Cecil, Pa. – The scope and scale of newer Marcellus shale wells far exceeds the old vertical, conventional, oil and gas wells, with some laterals reaching out nearly 4 miles.

“Low well bonding amounts are yet another backdoor subsidy for the gas industry”

Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council
Current and Proposed Unconventional Wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in October 2019

“Current bond amounts are so low companies are incentivized to go out of business instead of cleaning up. They’ve been allowed to abandon thousands of wells across Pennsylvania, leaving taxpayers to cover the cost”

Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Kelsey Krepps

“For far too long, Pennsylvania has undermined public health and environmental safety by having woefully inadequate bonding amounts for oil and gas wells”

Abigail M. Jones, PennFuture’s Vice President of Legal and Policy

“Because of current legislation, bonding is limited to the cost of plugging a well but the actual cost of fully remediating a site involves much more activity and could cost the state millions”

Melissa Marshall, attorney with the Mountain Watershed Association

“The oil and gas industry owes Pennsylvanians nothing less than to take full responsibility for their cradle to grave climate and health pollution across the state”

Melissa Ostroff, Earthworks Pennsylvania Field Advocate
“Both the 1984 Act and Act 13 of 2012 have language authorizing the EQB to change the bonding amount. If the Board accepts the petition for study, DEP is required to report back to the Board within 60 days with its further recommendations for action on the issues raised by the petition.” (Source)
It’s way past time to correct this glaring travesty for Pennsylvania taxpayers!


Many thanks to David E. Hess for compiling and reporting most of the information contained here in his PA ENVIRONMENT DIGEST BLOG.



Legacy Well Issues (Office of Oil and Gas Management, Pennsylvania DEP)

Abandoned and Orphan Oil and Gas Wells in Pennsylvania (Office of Oil and Gas Management, Pennsylvania DEP)

Amendments to HB1144

One Comment on “Pennsylvania Taxpayers Are Getting Drilled

  1. How do you guys even tolerate this. You can’t find a more stupid set of politicians. Dumber than Moe Larry and Curly. And you can’t find a more evil set of politicians since Hitler, Stalin and Mao. How do you put up with this.

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