An environmental group and an oil and gas industry lobbying group are both praising a bill that passed the Ohio House that would streamline the process of capping approximately 600 old, unused wells that don’t have owners. The groups 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 Ohio 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," Stewart says. "The budget director said that severance tax should be used to pay for issues such as Medicaid.”
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.