TN taxpayers may pay for plugs on abandoned oil wells

There are about 4,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Tennessee and the state’s taxpayers likely will have to pay the cost of cleaning up many, according to WTVF-TV.

The wells should be plugged to protect groundwater, says Mike Burton of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. TDEC has been doing so, spending almost $500,000 this year from a fund financed by bond money oil and gas companies put up before getting a drilling permit. But that fund is almost depleted since some companies put many wells on one bond, then went bankrupt or disappears.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “Are you going to run out of money to do this?”

Mike Burton said, “Probably. For the older wells I’d say that would be true.”

… Berry Resources abandoned 25 wells in Tennessee. It went out of business after Kentucky fined the company for “defrauding investors.”

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