Press "Enter" to skip to content

Louisiana Climate Strategies And Actions: Striving To Achieve Net Zero By Reducing Rogue Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil And Gas Wells

Zachary D. Berryman

Introduction

Currently, the United States faces around 3.4 million abandoned and orphaned oil and natural gas wells[1], with only around 40% of the abandoned wells being plugged.[2] That leaves around 2 million unplugged wells[3] that can “pose a risk to the environment and the health of neighboring communities and contribute to climate change.”[4] These unplugged wells emit methane, a “potent greenhouse gas” that significantly contributes to the climate crisis.[5]

The climate crisis is currently at the forefront of the local, state, national, and even international stage as the world nears a “tipping point” that will have “catastrophic consequences,” unless changes are implemented quickly.[6] The recent anthropogenic impact “has already warmed the planet 1.1ºC above pre-industrial levels,” but the real concern is exceeding 2.0ºC of warming.[7] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) has suggested that the world aim not to exceed 1.5ºC of warming, however, even optimistic policies after at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties Summit in Glasgow (“COP26”) project 1.8ºC of warming by 2100.[8] On the other hand, under current policies there is a projected 2.7ºC increase by 2100, and the average pledges and targets from COP26 project a 2.0ºC increase.[9]

World leaders, business leaders, non-governmental organizations, lobbyists, activists, fossil fuel representatives, and even local governments attended COP26, in particular, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.[10] Over a year before COP26, Governor Edwards committed Louisiana to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.[11] Net zero emissions are substantially different from zero emissions. ‘Net zero’ means that Louisiana will balance the greenhouse gases the state produces with the greenhouse gases it takes from the atmosphere, effectively eliminating the state’s impact on the global climate change.[12]

In hope of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in Louisiana, Governor Edwards created the Louisiana Climate Initiative Task Force (“Task Force”).[13] On August 23, 2021, the Task Force published its draft “Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions,” which outlined various strategies and action items for achieving net zero.[14] To achieve net zero emissions, Louisiana will have to reduce methane emissions within the state, which include orphaned oil and gas wells.[15] While Louisiana currently has a program to plug these orphaned wells, it is drastically underfunded. Under the current exemptions and reduced fees, it will take over a decade to plug the existing orphaned wells.[16] The Task Force recognized that additional sources of funding for the program need to be identified in order to achieve net zero by 2050.[17] However, on January 31, 2022, the Task Force released its final “Louisiana Climate Action Plan,” which removed the specific action item concerning increasing funding to plug orphaned wells, combining it with other action items and diminishing specificity.[18] While the final plan lacks the increased specificity of the draft, it nonetheless recognizes the need for statutory reform to increase funding to plug orphaned oil and gas wells.[19]

This Article examines two states that have similar orphaned well plugging programs and identifies possible solutions for increasing the funding to Louisiana’s Oilfield Site Restoration Program (“OSR”), which is responsible for plugging orphaned wells within the state. By increasing production taxes, permitting fees and surcharges on permitting fees, coupled with a minimal $0.01 to $0.02 per gallon increase in state excise tax on gasoline, the OSR could be completely funded in a few years. Additionally, this increased funding would finance the plugging of any newly abandoned or orphaned wells.

Part II will discuss the general background of orphaned wells, their effect on methane emissions, their presence in Louisiana, and the proposed action by the Louisiana Climate Initiative Task Force to increase funding to plug orphaned wells. Finally, Part III will discuss and analyze possible solutions to accomplish the relevant Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force action items, while ultimately proposing a specific recommendation that raises the funds from both producers and consumers.

Orphaned Wells and Where They Come From

When discussing the effects of orphaned wells on methane production, it is crucial to first understand the definition of an orphaned well. A well refers to “[a] hole drilled in the earth for the purpose of (1) finding or producing crude oil or natural gas; or (2) producing services related to the production of crude or natural gas.”[20] Americans have been drilling oil and natural gas wells since the mid-nineteenth century, resulting in millions of oil and natural gas wells across the country.[21] These wells go through life cycles, from active status, when they are producing oil or natural gas, to inactive, when the well no longer produces fossil fuels.[22] However, an inactive well can fall under several different categories: “shut-in, temporarily abandoned, idle, dormant, or orphaned.”[23]

Generally, an inactive well “must be properly closed and plugged to prevent impacts to water and air quality.”[24] Plugging is the process of filling up the wellbore[25] with a plug generally consisting of cement or cement in conjunction with bentonite and drilling mud, or with mechanical components.[26] However, when oil and gas exploration began, there were no such plugging requirements, and inactive abandoned wells were just “gaping holes in the ground.”[27] When owners and operators of these wells first started attempting to plug their inactive wells, they used lumber or dirt to seal off the well, which did little to mitigate the environmental impacts.[28] Over time, cement was introduced to plug inactive wells, and has become increasingly more efficient and effective.[29] Unlike plugging with sticks and dirt, cement plugs can be rather costly, and can leave the current owner or operator in a tight spot if they did not properly set aside funds before plugging becomes necessary, leading to orphaned wells.[30]

An orphaned well is a specific type of inactive abandoned oil or gas well where “no viable responsible party can be located, or such party has failed to maintain the wellsite in accordance with State rules and regulations.”[31] This can happen when the current company owning and operating the well goes bankrupt before plugging the well.[32] Because “[p]lugging takes capital to complete and provides no return on the investment for the oil companies,” it is not uncommon for larger companies to sell the well to smaller, family-owned “stripper” firms who purchase wells at the end of their productive life cycle or when energy prices fall in hopes of “stripping out the very last resources from the wells.”[33] These smaller firms are “at a particularly high risk of bankruptcy” when the energy prices are low or if the stripper firm is unable to strip enough from the well to cover their costs.[34] When this happens, the smaller firm is unable to pay to plug the well, and the well will remain unplugged and become “orphaned.”[35] Unable to go after the last operator because of insolvency or dissolution, the burden now “falls to the states to properly plug the well and restore the location.”[36] These abandoned and orphaned wells are scattered across the United States, numbering around 3.4 million wells, and only around 40% of the abandoned wells have already been plugged.[37]

The Environmental Impact of Orphaned Wells

Unplugged oil or gas wells pose more than just tripping hazards in the nearby communities; in fact, the unplugged wells pose a threat to everyone. While the whole world may not stumble into the unplugged well, the real threat is the methane emissions stemming from these wells.[38] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) estimates that abandoned and orphaned wells emit around 280,000 metric tons of methane per year.[39] It is important to understand how methane, an odorless and colorless gas, can harm the environment.[40] Just because it cannot be seen or smelled, does not mean its effects cannot be felt.

At this point, there is a good chance everyone has heard of the harmful effects of carbon dioxide, but its lesser-known counterpart, methane, is potentially more volatile.[41] Within the first twenty years of exposure, “[m]ethane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide . . . .”[42] While carbon dioxide may have a longer-lasting effect, “methane sets the pace for warming in the near term.”[43] A fourth of current global warming is a direct result of anthropogenic methane production, and the majority of that comes from the oil and gas industry.[44] Ultimately, “[p]lugging orphaned and abandoned wells . . . would lead to a measurable decrease in methane emissions and help us meet our climate goals.”[45]

Methane is currently on the global stage and even made appearance at the COP26.[46] With the first initiative being to “[s]ecure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach,”[47] COP26 further focused on reducing methane emissions[48] through employing “existing technologies [that] could shave up to 0.5°C off global temperatures by 2100.”[49] Led by European Union Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen and United States President Joe Biden, over a hundred countries signed “The Global Methane Pledge” which “aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels,” with many of the signing countries responsible for “nearly half of all methane” emissions.[50]

In August of 2020, prior to COP26, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards created Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force (“Task Force”)[51] and committed the state to reducing net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.[52] The Task Force was charged with creating recommendations to “[d]evelop policies, strategies, and incentives designed to achieve the net emissions reduction targets established in [JBE 2020-18] . . . .”[53]

Orphaned Wells in Louisiana

About a year before COP26, Governor Edwards created the Task Force and pledged net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.[54] This inevitably meant addressing the rogue methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells within the state. Currently, the state has around 4,300 documented unplugged orphaned wells,[55] and while there is no data on undocumented wells, “it’s safe to say there is a large number of undocumented wells in Louisiana.”[56] These rogue orphaned wells generate approximately 558 metric tons of methane emissions per year, which is “the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 3,000 cars.”[57] Ordinarily, plugging wells is the responsibility of the current or last known owner of record,[58] however, it is important to remember that the very nature of orphaned wells means “no viable responsible party can be located, or such party has failed to maintain the wellsite in accordance with State rules and regulations.”[59] Therefore the burden to plug the orphaned well falls on the State of Louisiana.[60]

To address the burden that plugging orphaned wells places upon the state, in 1993, Louisiana created the Louisiana Oilfield Site Restoration Program (“OSR”) within the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”).[61] This program was funded by a quarterly fee paid by Louisiana oil and gas operators which “consists of one and one-half cents ($.015) for every barrel of oil and condensate produced, and three-tenths of one cent ($.003) for every thousand cubic feet of gas produced.”[62] However, this only equates to around $4 million per year to be deposited into the OSR fund and used on plugging orphaned oil and natural gas wells.[63] On average plugging a single well costs $30,000, and with close to 4,300 orphaned wells, that brings the total cost of plugging all orphaned wells in Louisiana to $129 million, [64] assuming no additional wells are orphaned.[65] Based on current funding, average rate of plugging[66], and no additional wells being orphaned, plugging the existing orphaned wells could take anywhere from twenty to over thirty years.[67] Therefore, if Louisiana has a hope at achieving net zero emissions by 2050, it is clear that additional funding is necessary.

Climate Task Force Action Items

The Task Force is aware of the insufficient funding of the OSR fund and the impact that unplugged orphaned wells have on overall methane emission. In its draft “Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions,” the Task Force identified nine specific “priority areas” to address greenhouse gas emissions across Louisiana, one being to “Actively Manage Methane Emissions.”[68] One of the strategies within this priority area was to “[i]ncrease resources for decommissioning legacy oil and gas[.]”[69] A specific action item from this strategy was to “[i]ncrease funding to the Oilfield Site Restoration (OSR) Fund to plug orphaned wells[.]”[70] Specifically, the Task Force stated:

The OSR Fund is the state’s largest source of funding to plug orphaned wells. As noted by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor in 2014 and again in 2020, additional funding to the OSR is necessary to address and reduce the current population of orphaned wells, and exemptions and reduced fees result in approximately $4.4 million in lost revenues to the OSR Fund. This action by the Louisiana Legislation would increase existing (and identify additional) funds for OSR, including a removal of the OSR Fund cap on OSR fees, increase of the OSR fee, removal of exemptions and reductions in fees, and increase of the orphan well surcharge by 150%.[71]

This action item is associated with Submitted Action Proposal 166: “Improve Oilfield Site Restoration Fund funding to [plug and abandon] wells[.]”[72] The drafters of the Submitted Action Proposal 166 recognized that “[t]he OSR Fund lacks adequate resources to plug the state’s orphan wells,” and cited an audit performed by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s 2014 Performance Audit on the Office of Conservation (“OC”) within the DNR.[73]

However, the detailed language of the draft plan concerning funding the OSR did not survive the editing process. The language regarding OSR funding appeared in the final, “Louisiana Climate Action Plan,” as the action item titled “Strengthen financial security requirements for plugging wells”:

Financial security requirements are state-required bonds that guarantee compliance of operators with regulations for the issuance of permits for oil and gas exploration, drilling, and plugging. Since 2014, DNR’s Office of Conservation has implemented stronger regulatory practices of requiring financial security from operators and more frequent inspections, which has caused the number of identified orphaned wells to nearly double. However, extensive loopholes in financial security regulation allow operators to avoid meeting financial security requirements, leading to a failure to plug wells. Therefore, this action recommends comprehensive legislative reform to raise the amount of financial security and remove the ability of operators to use blanket securities, a technique which allows the operator to circumvent financial security. Additional financial security should be added to the Oilfield Site Restoration (OSR) Program to fund plugging of abandoned infrastructure, where no responsible party can be identified. Other statutory reforms could include removing the cap on the OSR fund, requiring site-specific trust accounts for all wells involved in an ownership transfer, and increasing the bonding requirement for all wells in the coastal zone.[74]

This final plan no longer calls for increasing the OSR fee and increasing the orphaned well surcharge, it instead focuses on state bonds, which was outlined in draft proposal action item 9.2, “Strengthen financial security requirements for plugging wells.”[75] Funding orphaned wells is no longer its own action item but was subsumed under strengthening financial security requirements (state bonding requirements). However, the draft proposal was correct in that funding these orphaned wells should not be an afterthought. It should be pulled out and highlighted for Louisiana’s legislature: these final proposed measures are not enough.

Even if the exemptions and reduced fees are removed, this only adds an additional $4.4 million per year to the OSR fund, meaning that plugging just the current orphaned wells will take anywhere from eleven[76] to over fifteen years.[77] Furthermore, it is unreasonable to assume no new wells will be orphaned during this time, which will only increase the time in which it takes to plug all of the orphaned wells. Louisiana must also “identify additional” funds as first proposed.[78] The question remains, how?

How Louisiana Can Increase OSR Funding

Operator Focused Solutions

As discussed, the cost of plugging all currently orphaned wells in Louisiana would be around $129 million, assuming an average cost of $30,000 per well.[79] Simply removing exemptions and reduced fees is not enough to make up the current difference in funding and the state must identify alternative sources. At present, oil and gas operators pay a quarterly fee which “consists of one and one-half cents ($.015) for every barrel of oil and condensate produced, and three-tenths of one cent ($.003) for every thousand cubic feet of gas produced.”[80] However, it may be beneficial to consider how other states with similar problems with orphaned wells fund their plugging programs.

Texas

In their 2014 report on the Office of Conservation (“OC”) within the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”), the Louisiana Legislative Auditors concluded that the OSR was underfunded “to address the current population of orphaned wells.”[81] At this time the Louisiana Legislative Auditor looked to other states for possible guidance to the OSR funding problem.[82] Particularly convincing is the State of Texas, which funds its Oil & Gas Regulation and Cleanup Fund (“ORGC”)[83] through “a combination of production taxes, permit fees, enforcement penalties and fees for filing organizational reports.”[84] While Texas currently has nearly double the amount of orphaned wells as Louisiana at 7,268,[85] the state exceeded their target of plugging 1,400 orphaned wells, with 1,477 wells completed during the 2020 fiscal year.[86] Texas has exceeded its target goal for plugging wells every fiscal year since 2017.[87] The 2014 Louisiana Legislative Auditor was particularly interested in Texas’ 150% surcharge on certain permitting fees which go directly to the ORGC,[88] and included this in the Task Force’s DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions.[89]

However, none of the additional aspects of the ORGC’s methods of funding appeared in the 2020 Progress Report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.[90] Whereas the ORS fund simply relies on production fees, the ORGC is funded by over twenty different fees, in addition to the surcharge.[91] Louisiana could help address the ORS funding disparity by enacting a combination of any number of these fees.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma takes an entirely different approach than Louisiana and Texas, plugging its orphaned wells through a voluntary assessment by the Oklahoma Energy Resource Board (“OERB”), a privatized state agency.[92] “The OERB is funded through a voluntary one-tenth of one-percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, paid for by oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.”[93] This voluntary assessment provides over $10 million in funding per year for the OERB.[94] Over twenty-five years, the OERB has funded and plugged over 17,000 orphaned wells.[95] Currently the state reports to have over 12,000 orphaned wells,[96] and in 2019, the OERB only plugged 138 wells.[97] However, the OERB funds are not used exclusively for plugging orphaned wells, as a substantial portion of the budget is spent on OERB’s extensive education program.[98] If Louisiana were to implement a similar voluntary program, the proceeds could go entirely to supporting the OSR in plugging orphaned wells.

Alternatively, instead of the current model of “one and one-half cents ($.015) for every barrel of oil and condensate produced, and three-tenths of one cent ($.003) for every thousand cubic feet of gas produced,”[99] Louisiana could shift its production fee to resemble that of Oklahoma, a “one-tenth of one-percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas in . . .”[100] Louisiana. The legislature could work with the oil and gas operators within the state to find an appropriate percentage under this method that would increase the OSR funding without substantially impacting the bottom line of the operators.

Consumer Focused Solutions

However, finding the additional funding may not be entirely possible by reasonably increasing the amount paid by the oil and gas operators and producers within the state. The legislature should further consider shifting some of the burden to state consumers. After all, the oil and gas operators are not solely responsible for oil and gas related pollution within the state. Natural gas accounts for 70% of Louisiana’s electricity net generation, which is “nearly twice the national rate,” while only around 4% of Louisiana’s electricity net generation comes from renewable resources.[101] The industrial sector may account for around 38% of the state’s electrical consumption, but the residential sector follows closely behind at 35%, and commercial sector accounts for the remaining 27%.[102] This results in Louisiana ranking “third-highest among the states in total electricity consumption on a per capita basis,” and Louisiana having “the highest per capita residential sector electricity consumption in the nation.”[103]

Additionally, Louisiana consumers benefit from the oil industry’s presence in the state. Gasoline prices consistently remain some of the lowest in the country, and while prices vary due to several factors, including state excise taxes, the presence of refineries contribute to the low price.[104] Overall, the oil and gas industry provides several large-scale benefits for Louisiana, as it makes up over a quarter of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”), supports around 250,000 jobs, and accounts for almost 15% of state and local tax revenue.[105]

However, the relationship between consumers and producers is inherently more complex. While Louisiana citizens may heavily rely on and benefit from the oil and gas industry, that is not to say these citizens are not also burdened by the industry. For example, those citizens that live near refineries and wells suffer from lower property values, so much so that some are unable to move away, while others feel that they should not be forced out.[106] These citizens that live in close proximity also report adverse health effects “including increases in cancer risk, heightened risk of developmental disorders in children, and risk of respiratory harm.”[107] Additionally, there is the concern of wetland erosion due to the oil and gas industry, which can effect much more than just the surrounding communities. A number of activities related to the oil and gas industry, including transportation, exploration, and drilling, have contributed to wetland loss which could lead to a broad range of negative effects throughout many different sectors and industries.[108] This includes but is not limited to, the advancement of the Gulf of Mexico inland by as much as thirty three miles, the decline of commercial and recreational fishing in the area, and irreversible damage to the ecosystem.[109] While the oil and gas industry may have many great benefits for the state and its citizens, the negative effects cannot be overlooked as well.

When the complexity of the relationship between the producers and consumers is appreciated, it becomes apparent that a solution to funding the OSR may look just as complex, involving both producers and consumers. The state should consider increasing the excise tax on gasoline and assigning the difference between the current excise tax and the increased amount to the OSR fund. The current excise tax on gasoline in Louisiana is 20.93 cents per gallon.[110] However, the national average is 30.63 cents per gallon, placing Louisiana nearly 10 cents per gallon under the national average.[111] Several states have excise taxes on gasoline that are over double that of Louisiana,[112] which leaves ample room for Louisiana to increase the tax without it being abnormal. In 2016, Louisiana consumed a total of 2,300,315,781 gallons of gasoline.[113] An increase of 10 cents per gallon would generate $230,031,578.10, which is well over the estimated $129,000,000 that it would take to plug the current orphaned wells in Louisiana.

Raising the Louisiana excise tax on gasoline to the national average could potentially fund plugging of all current orphaned wells within a single year. Anything in between would significantly speed up the plugging process of orphaned oil and gas wells within the state. Specifically, by increasing the state excise tax by only 1 cent per gallon of gasoline, the OSR would receive $23,003,157.81 per year in funding, and increasing the tax by 2 cents per gallon, the OSR would receive $46,006,315.62 per year in funding, both of which would keep Louisiana well under the national average for state excise tax on gasoline.

Proposed Operator and Consumer Focused Solution

The burden should not fall entirely on the citizens and consumers of Louisiana to fund the OSR, therefore, a 10-cent increase that would over-fund the program is unnecessary and not advised. However, a 1 to 2 cent increase in the state excise tax would significantly increase funding to the OSR, without being unduly burdensome on consumers. Even with the increase, Louisiana would still be around 8 to 9 cents lower than the national average for state excise taxes on gasoline.

The necessary additional funding for the program, after the increase in the excise tax, should come from the oil and gas industry. Taking cues from the Texas approach, Louisiana should increase production taxes, permitting fees and surcharges on permitting fees[114] to generate the remaining funding for the OSR. By combining the consumer-focused approach with the operator approach, the OSR could be fully funded in a matter of just a few years. Additionally, if the increase in annual funding was substantial enough, it may also support the plugging any newly orphaned wells, which had been unaccounted for in the current models and projections.

Conclusion

With methane emissions at the forefront of climate change conversation, emissions need to be addressed and everyone must collaborate to decrease the environmental impact. Louisiana’s Governor Edwards recognized this responsibility by establishing the Task Force to move Louisiana to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Task Force drafted proposals and finalized a plan to reduce methane emissions, which included plugging orphaned wells within the state. However, the current program that funds orphaned well plugging, the OSR, is underfunded and with its current resources could take two to three decades, that is if no additional wells become orphaned during that time. Recognizing this issue, the Task Force originally suggested that the legislature identify additional sources of funding for the OSR, and while the Task Force appears to have abandoned this issue, it remains crucial to reduce methane emissions from orphaned wells and ultimately achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The Task Force’s suggestions for increased funding, are unlikely to result in orphaned wells being plugged at a much faster rate. To accomplish this goal and provide necessary funds for the OSR, the Louisiana Legislature should look to Texas and how it funds the ORGC. This program has had great success in exceeding its plugging goals each year by raising funds through increase production taxes, permitting fees, and surcharges on permitting fees. Alternatively, the legislature could look to how the OERB is funded in Oklahoma, a unique voluntary assessment paid by oil and gas producers in the state and royalty owners.

Although, industry funding is not likely to account for all the funding needed for the OSR to plug the current orphaned and abandoned wells, therefore the legislature should also look to consumers. By increasing the current state excise tax on gasoline by only 1 to 2 cents, which would still result in Louisiana’s excise tax being considerably lower than the national average. If the newly generated revenue from the excise tax went to fund the OSR the program would receive tens of millions of dollars more per year to plug orphaned wells.

Coupling increased production taxes, permitting fees and surcharges on permitting fees from the oil and gas producers and operators, with the revenue from a minimal 1 to 2 cent increase on the state excise tax on gasoline, the OSR would be fully funding in just a few years, with a steady stream of funding that would also have the ability to support funding the plugging additional orphaned wells in the future.

Funding the OSR is essential to achieving the state’s goal of net zero by 2050 and the international goal of only 1.5ºC of global warming by 2100. The complex relationship between the oil and gas industry and the citizens of Louisiana, and the expansive implications of the climate crisis, makes it difficult to assign the burden of funding the OSR to just one group. Therefore, the burden should be shared between the producers and consumers in a collective effort to bring about a cleaner state and avert catastrophic warming.

  1. Orphaned and abandoned oil and natural gas wells refer to wells that have no responsible party can be located or the responsible party is insolvent and unable to afford the cost of plugging the well, resulting in unplugged wells. For a complete discussion further definitions of orphaned and abandoned wells, see discussion infra Part.II.
  2. The exact number of orphaned wells was not established in the report, which would increase the number of unplugged wells. See U.S. Env’t Prot. Agency, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2019, 3-111 (2021). “As of 2018, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) reported 56,600 documented orphaned wells, and 194,400 approved idle wells out of a total of 1.6 million unplugged wells throughout the United States. As of 2018, the states had already plugged over 63,000 orphaned wells. Estimates of undocumented orphaned wells range into the hundreds of thousands.” Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021); see also Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Comm’n, Idle and Orphan Oil and Gas Wells: State and Provincial Regulatory Strategies 12-13 (2019) (documenting around 57,000 documented orphaned wells within the thirty reporting states with undocumented orphaned wells ranging in the hundreds of thousands), https://iogcc.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc836/f/2020_03_04_updated_idle_and_orphan_oil_and_gas_wells_report_0.pdf.
  3. See Blake Wright, Hide and Seek: The Orphan Well Problem in America, JPT: J. of Petroleum Tech. (Aug. 1, 2021), https://jpt.spe.org/hide-and-seek-the-orphan-well-problem-in-america.
  4. Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  5. See Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight, EDF: Env’t Def. Fund, https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  6. Renee Cho, How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points?, Columbia Climate School: Climate (Nov. 11, 2021), https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/11/11/how-close-are-we-to-climate-tipping-points/.
  7. Renee Cho, How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points?, Columbia Climate School: Climate (Nov. 11, 2021), https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/11/11/how-close-are-we-to-climate-tipping-points/.
  8. Renee Cho, How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points?, Columbia Climate School: Climate (Nov. 11, 2021), https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/11/11/how-close-are-we-to-climate-tipping-points/; see also Jess Shankleman, Top Energy Agency Says COP26 Pledges Signal 1.8°C of Warming, Bloomberg Green (Nov. 4, 2021, 7:04 AM), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-04/top-energy-agency-says-cop26-pledges-signal-1-8-c-of-warming.
  9. See Georgina Rannard, COP26: World headed for 2.4C warming despite climate summit – report, BBC: News (Nov. 9, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59220687. Note that this is a substantial decrease from previous policies at the time of the Paris climate summit in 2015, which projected a 3.6°C increase by 2100. See Georgina Rannard, COP26: World headed for 2.4C warming despite climate summit – report, BBC: News (Nov. 9, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59220687.
  10. See Frank Langfitt, The fossil fuel industry turned out in force at COP26. So did climate activists, NPR (Nov. 12, 2021, 1:59 PM), https://www.npr.org/2021/11/12/1055030272/fossil-fuel-cop26-climate-change-glasgow; Sophie Mellor, COP26 is ‘crawling with fossil fuel lobbyists,’ and they’re watering down negotiations, climate hawks warn, Fortune (Nov. 12, 2021, 9:57 AM), https://fortune.com/2021/11/12/cop26-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-climate-un-shell-exxonmobil-bp/; Mark Schleifstein, At COP26, John Bel Edwards tries to position Louisiana as a magnet for clean energy, nola.com (Oct. 31, 2021, 4:00 AM), https://www.nola.com/news/environment/article_931207b8-38e7-11ec-9e8b-9ff7a0eb900b.html; Gov. Edwards to Travel to International Climate Change Summit in Scotland, Office of Governor John Bell Edwards (Oct. 25, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/3441.
  11. See infra notes 49-51 and accompanying text.
  12. See Umair Irfan, Are “net-zero” climate targets just hot air?, Vox (Oct. 29, 2021, 10:30 AM), https://www.vox.com/22737140/un-cop26-climate-change-net-zero-emissions-carbon-offsets (“For example, if a factory owner can’t figure out how to eliminate their emissions with current technologies, they can pay to restore a mangrove swamp that will absorb an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. If the mangrove absorbs roughly what the factory pollutes, the factory theoretically won’t contribute to warming. (The idea of net-zero sometimes goes beyond carbon dioxide and accounts for other heat-trapping gases, like methane.)”).
  13. See discussion infra Part II.A.
  14. See discussion infra Part II.C.
  15. See discussion infra Part II.
  16. See discussion infra Part II.C.
  17. See discussion infra Part II.C.
  18. See discussion infra Part II.C.
  19. See discussion infra Part II.C.
  20. Petroleum & Other Liquids, U.S. Energy Info. Admin., https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/TblDefs/pet_crd_wellend_tbldef2.asp (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  21. See Daniel Raimi et al., Decommissioning Orphaned and Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells: New Estimates and Cost Drivers, 55 Env’t Sci. & Tech. 10224, 10224 (2021); see also Greg Lackey et al., Public data from three US states provide new insights into well integrity, 118 PNAS no. 14, 1 (2021) (stating that there are currently over 900,000 active oil and natural gas wells in the United States).
  22. See generally Grant Gardner, Inactive Oil and Gas Wells on Federal Lands and Minerals: Potential Costs and Conflicts 1 (2021); Life Cycle of a Well, CAPP, https://www.capp.ca/explore/life-cycle-of-a-well/ (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  23. Grant Gardner, Inactive Oil and Gas Wells on Federal Lands and Minerals: Potential Costs and Conflicts 1 (2021).
  24. Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  25. “A wellbore is a hole that is drilled to aid in the exploration and recovery of natural resources, including oil, gas, or water. A wellbore is the actual hole that forms the well.” James Chen, Wellbore, Investopedia, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wellbore.asp (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  26. See Tech. Subgroup, Operations & Env’t Task Grp., Plugging and Abandonment of Oil and Gas Wells: Paper #2-25, at 6, 9-15 (2011), https://www.npc.org/Prudent_Development-Topic_Papers/2-25_Well_Plugging_and_Abandonment_Paper.pdf (Working Document of the NPC North American Resource Development Study).
  27. Tech. Subgroup, Operations & Env’t Task Grp., Plugging and Abandonment of Oil and Gas Wells: Paper #2-25, at 6 (2011), https://www.npc.org/Prudent_Development-Topic_Papers/2-25_Well_Plugging_and_Abandonment_Paper.pdf (Working Document of the NPC North American Resource Development Study).
  28. See Alan Krupnick, Ten Recommendations for Plugging the Gaps in Inactive Well Policy, Resources (Sept. 14, 2016), https://www.resources.org/archives/ten-recommendations-for-plugging-the-gaps-in-inactive-well-policy/; Tech. Subgroup, Operations & Env’t Task Grp., Plugging and Abandonment of Oil and Gas Wells: Paper #2-25, at 9-10 (2011), https://www.npc.org/Prudent_Development-Topic_Papers/2-25_Well_Plugging_and_Abandonment_Paper.pdf (Working Document of the NPC North American Resource Development Study).
  29. See Tech. Subgroup, Operations & Env’t Task Grp., Plugging and Abandonment of Oil and Gas Wells: Paper #2-25, at 9-12 (2011), https://www.npc.org/Prudent_Development-Topic_Papers/2-25_Well_Plugging_and_Abandonment_Paper.pdf (Working Document of the NPC North American Resource Development Study). For further information on the plugging process see generally Tech. Subgroup, Operations & Env’t Task Grp., Plugging and Abandonment of Oil and Gas Wells: Paper #2-25 (2011), https://www.npc.org/Prudent_Development-Topic_Papers/2-25_Well_Plugging_and_Abandonment_Paper.pdf (Working Document of the NPC North American Resource Development Study).
  30. See Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10530-31 (2017).
  31. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res. (emphasis added), http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  32. See Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  33. See Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10530-31 (2017) (internal quotations and citations omitted); Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  34. See Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10530-31 (2017) (internal quotations and citations omitted); Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. A for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  35. See Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10531 (2017).
  36. See Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10531 (2017) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
  37. The exact number of orphaned wells was not established in the report, which would increase the number of unplugged wells. See U.S. Env’t Prot. Agency, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks:1990-2019, 3-111 (2021). “As of 2018, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) reported 56,600 documented orphaned wells, and 194,400 approved idle wells out of a total of 1.6 million unplugged wells throughout the United States. As of 2018, the states had already plugged over 63,000 orphaned wells. Estimates of undocumented orphaned wells range into the hundreds of thousands.” Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021); see also Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Comm’n, Idle and Orphan Oil and Gas Wells: State and Provincial Regulatory Strategies 12-13 (2019), https://iogcc.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc836/f/2020_03_04_updated_idle_and_orphan_oil_and_gas_wells_report.pdf (report documenting around 57,000 documented orphaned wells within the thirty reporting states with undocumented orphaned wells ranging in the hundreds of thousands).
  38. See Management of Abandoned and Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, AAAS: Am. Ass’n for the Advancement of Sci., https://www.aaas.org/epi-center/management-of-wells (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  39. See Daniel Raimi, Plugging Abandoned Wells: Effects of the Draft Energy Infrastructure Act, Resources for the Future 1 (2021), https://media.rff.org/documents/IB_21-06_v3.pdf.
  40. See PubChem: Methane, Nat’l Libr. of Med., https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Methane (“Methane is a colorless odorless gas.”).
  41. See Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight, EDF: Env’t Def. Fund, https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  42. Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight, EDF: Env’t Def. Fund, https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  43. Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight, EDF: Env’t Def. Fund, https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  44. Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight, EDF: Env’t Def, Fund, https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight (last visited Nov. 30, 2021); see also Cameron Rotblat, Caring for the Orphans: Approaches for Mitigating Fugitive Methane Emissions From Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, 47 Env’t L. Rep. News & Analysis 10529, 10531 (2017) (footnote omitted) (“According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), natural gas and petroleum systems are the largest source of methane emissions in the United States, responsible for roughly 33% of total U.S methane emissions.”).
  45. Jeff Turrentine, Millions of Leaky and Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Are Threatening Lives and the Climate, NRDC (July 26, 2021) (internal quotations and citations omitted), https://www.nrdc.org/stories/millions-leaky-and-abandoned-oil-and-gas-wells-are-threatening-lives-and-climate.
  46. See Glasgow Chronicles: EU and the US announce a global pledge to slash methane, Eur. Comm. of the Regions (Nov. 5, 2021), https://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/Glasgow-Chronicles-EU-and-the-US-announce-a-global-pledge-to-slash-methane.aspx.
  47. COP26 Goals, UN Climate Change Conf. UK 2021, https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/ (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  48. See Ehsan Masood & Jeff Tollefson, COP26 climate pledges: What scientists think so far, nature (Nov. 5, 2021), https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03034-z.
  49. Ehsan Masood & Jeff Tollefson, COP26 climate pledges: What scientists think so far, nature (Nov. 5, 2021), https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03034-z (citing Ilissa B Ocko et al., Acting rapidly to deploy readily available methane mitigation measures by sector can immediately slow global warming, Env’t Rsch. Letters 16 (2021); Control methane to slow global warming — fast, nature (Aug. 25, 2021), https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02287-y).
  50. COP26: US and EU announce global pledge to slash methane, BBC: News (Nov. 2, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-59137828.
  51. See La. Exec. Order No. JBE 2020-18 § 1 (Aug. 19, 2020), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/ExecutiveOrders/2020/JBE-2020-18-Climate-Initiatives-Task-Force.pdf.
  52. See La. Exec. Order No. JBE 2020-18 § 2 (Aug. 19, 2020), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/ExecutiveOrders/2020/JBE-2020-18-Climate-Initiatives-Task-Force.pdf (committing Louisiana to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025, 40-50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050). Note that this is a growing trend in the United States, and Louisiana is one of twenty states that have pledged 100% clean energy, in addition to the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico. For a full list of the states and a summary of their clean energy initiatives, see 100% Clean Energy Collaborative – Table of 100% Clean Energy States, Clean Energy States All., https://www.cesa.org/projects/100-clean-energy-collaborative/guide/table-of-100-clean-energy-states/ (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  53. See La. Exec. Order No. JBE 2020-18 § 2 (Aug. 19, 2020), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/ExecutiveOrders/2020/JBE-2020-18-Climate-Initiatives-Task-Force.pdf.
  54. See La. Exec. Order No. JBE 2020-18 §§ 1-2 (Aug. 19, 2020), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/ExecutiveOrders/2020/JBE-2020-18-Climate-Initiatives-Task-Force.pdf.
  55. See Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:30 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html (discussing a 50% increase in orphaned wells in Louisiana due to improved regulatory practices, yielding a total of 4,295 documented orphaned wells in the state); but see Mapping Orphaned Wells in Louisiana, EDF: Env’t Def. Fund (2021), https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/Orphan%20Well%20FactSheet%20LA.pdf (stating there are 4,628 documented orphaned wells in Louisiana).
  56. Tristan Baurick, ‘A win-win’: Plugging Louisiana’s 4,300 ‘orphaned’ wells could boost industry, cut emissions, nola.com (July 22, 2020, 1:05 PM) (internal quotations omitted), https://www.nola.com/news/environment/article_6209ccc2-cc33-11ea-98b3-6ff39d64c7c1.html (quoting Daniel Raimi, a public policy researcher, who co-authored a report on the orphaned and abandoned wells across the country. For the full report see Jason Bordoff et al., Colum. Ctr. on Glob. Energy Pol’y, Green Stimulus for Oil and Gas Workers: Considering a Major Federal Effort to Plug Orphaned and Abandoned Wells (2020)).
  57. Tristan Baurick, ‘A win-win’: Plugging Louisiana’s 4,300 ‘orphaned’ wells could boost industry, cut emissions, nola.com (July 22, 2020, 1:05 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/environment/article_6209ccc2-cc33-11ea-98b3-6ff39d64c7c1.html.
  58. La. Admin. Code tit. 43, § XIX-137(B) (“The responsibility of plugging any well over which the commissioner of conservation has jurisdiction shall be the owner(s) of record.”).
  59. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res. (emphasis added), http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  60. See J. Michael Veron, In Pursuit of Bigfoot: Confronting Oil and Gas Mythology in Louisiana, 75 La. L. Rev. 1251, 1264 (2015).
  61. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 31, 2021).
  62. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  63. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021); see also Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html (stating that an audit performed by the Louisiana Legislature Auditor’s Office claims that an average of $6.5 million is deposited into the OSR fund each year).
  64. See Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html.
  65. This is an unrealistic assumption as from 2008 to 2013 an average of 170 wells were newly-orphaned each year, and from 2014 to 2017 an average of 413 wells were newly-orphaned each year. See Sam Karlin, What’s an ‘orphan well?’ Louisiana oil recession leaves plenty of them behind, The Advocate (July 15, 2018, 11:00 PM), https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_a8fcdd26-7ed4-11e8-91ba-a71945c9252c.html.
  66. See Sam Karlin, What’s an ‘orphan well?’ Louisiana oil recession leaves plenty of them behind, The Advocate (July 15, 2018, 11:00 PM), https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_a8fcdd26-7ed4-11e8-91ba-a71945c9252c.html (stating that from 2008 to 2013 on average only ninety-five wells were plugged each year, and from 2014 to 2017 on average only 105 wells were plugged); Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html (stating that for the fiscal year of 2019, 145 wells were plugged); J. Michael Veron, In Pursuit of Bigfoot: Confronting Oil and Gas Mythology in Louisiana, 75 La. L. Rev. 1251, 1264 (2015) (citing Louisiana’s Orphaned Well Program: Fact Sheet, La. Dep’t Nat’l Res. (June 30, 2010), http://perma.cc/6VY4-C7YZ) (stating that around 160 wells are plugged each fiscal year).
  67. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021) (assuming $4 million in funding the project would take upwards of thirty years); Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html (assuming $6.5 million in funding the projecting would take around twenty years).
  68. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf .
  69. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15-16 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf .
  70. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf.
  71. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021) (emphasis added), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf.
  72. See La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, Action Submissions (Apr. 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Action-Submissions/CTF_Actions_ALLSUBMISSIONS_05242021.pdf (table including 178 action proposals drafted by various members of the Task Force).
  73. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, Action Submissions (Apr. 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Action-Submissions/CTF_Actions_ALLSUBMISSIONS_05242021.pdf (citing La. Legis. Auditor, Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources (2014)).
  74. La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, Louisiana Climate Action Plan 66 (Feb. 1, 2022) (emphasis added), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/CAP/Climate_Action_Plan_FINAL_3.pdf.
  75. See La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, Louisiana Climate Action Plan 66 (Feb. 1, 2022), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/CAP/Climate_Action_Plan_FINAL_3.pdf.; La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf (“ACTION 9.2 Strengthen financial security requirements for plugging wells”).
  76. Assuming $6.5 million per year is the current funding. See Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html.
  77. Assuming $4 million per year is the current funding. See Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  78. See La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf (“ACTION 9.2 Strengthen financial security requirements for plugging wells”).
  79. See Mark Schleifstein, Number of ‘orphaned’ wells increased by 50 percent, could cost state millions: audit, nola.com (Apr. 19, 2020, 3:03 PM), https://www.nola.com/news/business/article_313d8dd2-7a9d-11ea-b4a4-e7675d1484f7.html.
  80. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res,, http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  81. La. Legis. Auditor, Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources 31 (2014).
  82. See La. Legis. Auditor, Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources 32 ex. 20 (2014) (exhibit comparing the sources of funding from Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming).
  83. See What Are Orphan Wells?, Texans For Natural Gas, https://www.texansfornaturalgas.com/orphan_wells (last visited Dec. 4, 2021).
  84. See La. Legis. Auditor, Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources 32 (2014).
  85. Cathy Bussewitz & Martha Irvine, Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals, Associated Press (July 31, 2021), https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-business-health-environment-and-nature-coronavirus-pandemic-f04ac92a45b4e02392e86b618cc4ff03.
  86. Texas oil regulator exceeds state’s annual goal for plugging abandoned wells, World Oil (Sept. 23, 2020), https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/9/23/texas-oil-regulator-exceeds-state-s-annual-goal-for-plugging-abandoned-wells.
  87. See Texas oil regulator exceeds state’s annual goal for plugging abandoned wells, World Oil (Sept. 23, 2020), https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/9/23/texas-oil-regulator-exceeds-state-s-annual-goal-for-plugging-abandoned-wells (in 2017 the goal was 875 wells and the agency plugged 918; in 2018 the goal was 979 wells and the agency plugged 1,364; and in 2019 the goal was 979 wells and the agency plugged 1,710).
  88. See La. Legis. Auditor, Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources 32 (2014).
  89. See La. Climate Initiatives Task Force, DRAFT Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions 15 (Aug. 23, 2021), https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CCI-Task-force/Aug21mtgs/DRAFTActionPortfolio08232021.pdf (“[I]ncrease of the orphan well surcharge by 150%.”).
  90. See La. Legis. Auditor, Progress Report: Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells and Management of Orphaned Wells: Office of Conservation – Department of Natural Resources15-16 (2020), https://app.lla.state.la.us/PublicReports.nsf/0/C9D7297FEA93568D86258528006BA4F8/$FILE/0001FA2E.pdf.
  91. See Tex. Nat. Res. Code § 81.067. For a full list of all fees supporting the ORGC see Tex. Nat. Res. Code § 81.067.
  92. See Voluntarily funded by the people of Oklahoma Oil & Natural Gas., Okla. Oil & Nat. Gas, https://oerb.com/about/funding/ (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  93. Voluntarily funded by the people of Oklahoma Oil & Natural Gas., Okla. Oil & Nat. Gas, https://oerb.com/about/funding/ (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  94. Okla. State Auditor & Inspector, Operational Audit: Oklahoma Energy Resources Board 2 (2018), https://www.sai.ok.gov/Search%20Reports/database/OERB18WebFinal.pdf (for the fiscal year of 2016, the assessment amounted to $11,825,490.78, and in the fiscal year of 2017, the assessment amounted to $12,175,442.14).
  95. OERB, 2019 Annual Report 6 (2019), https://oerb.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/OERB_AnnualReport_FINAL.pdf.
  96. “In Oklahoma, that term refers to abandoned wells that could technically be ‘adopted’ and pumped again . . . .” Emily Pontecorvo, Abandonment Issues, Grist (Dec. 1, 2020), https://grist.org/energy/plugging-abandoned-oil-wells-carbon-offsets/.
  97. Emily Pontecorvo, Abandonment Issues, Grist (Dec. 1, 2020), https://grist.org/energy/plugging-abandoned-oil-wells-carbon-offsets/.
  98. See OERB, 2019 Annual Report 8-11 (2019), https://oerb.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/OERB_AnnualReport_FINAL.pdf.
  99. Office of Conservation, State of La.: Dep’t of Nat. Res., http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=155 (last visited Nov. 30, 2021).
  100. Voluntarily funded by the people of Oklahoma Oil & Natural Gas., Okla. Oil & Nat. Gas, https://oerb.com/about/funding/ (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  101. Louisiana: State Profile and Energy Estimates, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (Apr. 15, 2021) (footnote omitted), https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=LA.
  102. Louisiana: State Profile and Energy Estimates, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (Apr. 15, 2021) (footnote omitted), https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=LA.
  103. Louisiana: State Profile and Energy Estimates, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (Apr. 15, 2021) (footnote omitted), https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=LA.
  104. See generally Brad Plumer, Why gas prices vary so much from state to state, Vox (Dec. 8, 2014, 4:30 PM), https://www.vox.com/2014/12/18/7417599/gas-prices-state; Robert Ferris, Why U.S. gasoline prices vary so much from state to state, CNBC (Oct. 26, 2021, 8:00 AM), https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/26/why-us-gasoline-prices-vary-so-much-from-state-to-state.html.
  105. Economic Impact, LMOGA: La. Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Ass’n, https://www.lmoga.com/benefits-of-the-industry/economic-impact (last visited Dec. 19, 2021).
  106. See Bobbi-Jeanne Misick, Louisiana’s most vulnerable residents share their stories during EPA’s ‘Journey to Justice’ tour, WWNO (Nov. 19, 2021. 2:26 PM), https://www.wwno.org/news/2021-11-19/louisianas-most-vulnerable-residents-share-their-stories-during-epas-journey-to-justice-tour, See generally Robert A. Simons et al., Modeling the Effects of Refinery Emissions on Residential Property Values, 37 J. Real Est. Resh. no. 3, 321 (2015) (“[F]indings indicate that air pollution has a significant negative 6%-8% loss on house prices. For one year, the negative effect is shown to generally diminish with distance up to about two miles from the refinery.”); Julia L. Hansen et al., Environmental Hazards and Residential Property Values: Evidence from a Major Pipeline Event, 82 Land Econ. no. 4, 529 (2008) (finding that property values were not affected near accident-free pipelines, but where accidents occurred, property value suffered based on proximity).
  107. Earthjustice et al., Petition for Listing and Rulemaking Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act to Establish an Area Source Category for Oil and Gas Production Wells and Associated Equipment and to Set National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions 2 (2014), https://www.foreffectivegov.org/sites/default/files/regs/og-toxic-wells-petition-051314-final-filed.pdf (discussing health effects of refineries on nearby communities); see also Lisa Garcia, Communities Near Oil Refineries Must Demand Cleaner Air, Earthjustice (Aug. 21, 2014), https://earthjustice.org/blog/2014-august/communities-near-oil-refineries-must-demand-cleaner-air (discussing health risks of living near refineries).
  108. See generally Donald W. Davis & John L. Place, U.S. Department of the Interior: U.S. Geological Survey: The Oil and Gas Industry of Coastal Louisiana and its Effect on Land Use and Socioeconomic Patterns (1983), https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1983/0118/report.pdf; Jae-Young Ko et al., Impacts of Oil and Gas Activities on Coastal Wetland Loss in the Mississippi Delta, 47 Ocean & Coastal Mgmt. 597, 618 (2004) (“Petroleum-related activities have contributed significantly to wetland loss in the Mississippi Delta. Oil and gas extraction increased the subsidence rate, sometimes by a factor of up to 2–3, because of reduction of pressure that led to faulting related subsidence.”); La. Coastal Wetlands Conservation & Restoration Task Force, The 1997 Evaluation Report to the U.S. Congress on the Effectiveness of Louisiana Coastal Wetland Restoration Projects 8 (1997), https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/rtc/1997/5.htm (discussing the history, causes, and implication of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana).
  109. La. Coastal Wetlands Conservation & Restoration Task Force, The 1997 Evaluation Report to the U.S. Congress on the Effectiveness of Louisiana Coastal Wetland Restoration Projects 8 (1997), https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/rtc/1997/5.htm (discussing the history, causes, and implication of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana).
  110. This figure includes all applicable “sales and/or use taxes, inspection fees, environmental fees, or other charges.” How much tax do we pay on a gallon of gasoline and on a gallon of diesel fuel?, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (quotations and figures coming from the hyperlinked table, “State-by-state fuel taxes”, https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/marketing/monthly/xls/fueltaxes.xls), https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=10&t=5 (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  111. This figure includes all applicable “sales and/or use taxes, inspection fees, environmental fees, or other charges.” How much tax do we pay on a gallon of gasoline and on a gallon of diesel fuel?, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (quotations and figures coming from the hyperlinked table, “State-by-state fuel taxes”, https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/marketing/monthly/xls/fueltaxes.xls), https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=10&t=5 (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  112. The following states and territory have excise taxes on gasoline over 41.86 cents per gallon (double that of Louisiana): California (58.76 cents/gallon); Illinois (55.30 cents/gallon); Indiana (49.80 cents/gallon); Michigan (42.30 cents/gallon); New Jersey (50.75 cents/gallon); Pennsylvania (58.70 cents/gallon); Washington (52.21 cents/gallon); and Puerto Rico (52.90 cents/gallon). How much tax do we pay on a gallon of gasoline and on a gallon of diesel fuel?, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (quotations and figures coming from the hyperlinked table, “State-by-state fuel taxes”, https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/marketing/monthly/xls/fueltaxes.xls), https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=10&t=5 (last visited Nov. 4, 2021).
  113. Here, gasoline is defined as including gasohol, a fuel blend of predominately gasoline and smaller amounts of ethanol. U.S. Dep’t Transp.: Fed. Highway Admin., Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States: July 2017, 7 (2017), https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/motorfuel/jul17/jul17.pdf; Gasohol, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gasohol (last visited Dec. 4, 2021).
  114. Louisiana should also consider implementing any and all other fees that go into funding the ORGC. See Tex. Nat. Res. Code § 81.067 (2021).
Facebooktwitterlinkedininstagramflickrfoursquaremail