The United States has more abandoned wells than we thought

The number of abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States is much higher than previously thought, according to an exclusive analysis shared with The Climate 202.

The analysis, which was done by the Environmental Defense Fund and McGill University, found that there are 81,283 documented orphan wells across the country that were drilled and then improperly abandoned by oil and gas companiesThat’s nearly 1.5 times the previous estimate of roughly 56,000 wells from the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a quasi-governmental organization.

Each orphan well is a major climate problem: It spews methane, a potent greenhouse gas. While methane breaks down in the atmosphere faster than carbon dioxide, it’s about 86 times more powerful at warming the planet in the short term.

  • The analysis also found that about 9 million Americans live within one mile of an orphan well, including 4.3 million people of color and 550,000 children younger than 5 who are especially vulnerable to health problems tied to air pollution.
  • The findings come with a map showing the locations of orphan wells in all 50 states, including “hot spots” in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

“I think what you get out of this map is a sense of how big this problem is,” Adam Peltz, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund who worked on the analysis, told The Climate 202. “It’s a coast-to-coast problem. It’s a rural and urban problem.”

Read the full Washington Post article at the link below.