Beneath the Surface: How Orphan Oil Wells Could Overwhelm Colorado’s Budget

There is a fiscal problem brewing “beneath the surface” in Colorado. Our current financial assurance system for oil and gas development in Colorado lacks the ability to ensure that operators are paying the appropriate amount so that the state and taxpayers are not on the hook for plugging wells in the future. In fact, Colorado’s orphan well program does not even have the revenue to go through the current abandoned well backlog in our state.

Without real reform, Colorado could be on the hook for over $8 billion worth of work to plug current oil and gas wells. Fortunately, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is currently writing regulations that could move our state in the right direction and ensure that our budget is not overwhelmed by our responsibility to safely plug wells and remediate the surrounding land and water.

The report below, “Beneath the Surface: How Orphan Oil Wells Could Overwhelm Colorado’s Budget”, details the problems with the current financial assurance regulations and what the true cost of the oil and gas program will be for Colorado without changes. Real changes, such as increasing the amount of money oil and gas operators must pay up front, are needed to make sure that Colorado taxpayers are not the ones paying for plugging wells and cleaning up the land. 

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