President Biden is poised to sign the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells Act of 2021 (REGROW Act), as part of the broader infrastructure bill.
In response, Commission Shift Executive Director Virginia Palacios issued the following statement:
“We applaud the passage of the REGROW Act, which will dedicate nearly $5 billion to plugging orphaned oil and gas wells across the country while creating jobs and reducing impacts to land, water and people.
“As Commission Shift highlighted in our 2021 report “Unplugged and Abandoned,” unsealed orphan wells can leak harmful air pollutants, endanger water sources, lower property values and emit methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. This bipartisan legislation will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs nationwide while cleaning up our communities.
“In order for Texas to fully take advantage of the REGROW Act, the Railroad Commission -- which oversees oil and gas in the state -- needs to make improvements to its well plugging program that will reduce future orphaned well burdens. Holding operators accountable for plugging their wells before they become financially insolvent will be an important step in protecting water supplies, air quality, and our climate.
“As the oil and gas industry’s decline continues, we can expect to see more bankrupt operators orphaning their wells. The REGROW Act’s passage represents an opportunity for the Railroad Commission of Texas to prevent more operators from leaving their wells behind for taxpayers to plug and cleanup.”