The state budget director is pushing back on a bill that environmental advocates and the oil and gas industry say would streamline the process of capping some 600 old oil and gas wells that don’t have owners. The bill would also triple the amount of money set aside to cap those wells.
The Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association say $62 million came out of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ oil and gas fund in the last two budgets – nearly $20 million to settle two ODNR-related lawsuits, and the rest to balance the state budget last year. But budget director Tim Keen said the process of capping orphan wells moves too slowly to use the $52 million the fund had in it last year. “I believe there’s plenty of money to run a robust program, even if periodic modest transfers out are made.”
ODNR says it spent less than $3 million to cap 40 wells in the first half of this fiscal year.