Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals

At the end of June, Texas reported 7,268 orphaned wells, up 17% since 2019. An additional 146,859 were considered “inactive”: They were no longer producing oil, but the owners hadn’t yet been required to plug them. Many inactive wells may actually be orphaned wells, said David Wieland, regional organizer with the Western Organization of Resource Councils, a network of grassroots groups focused on land stewardship. Some producers will let a well sit idle for a year or two, he said, and then produce just enough oil to avoid being required to plug it.”

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