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$200 million proposed to assist with capping state orphaned oil and gas wells

Oil Well Leak Inspections
Posted at 7:13 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 14:32:25-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Kern County Board of Supervisors showed their support for a $200 million proposed in the state general fund budget to assist with capping state orphaned oil and gas wells across California.

Orphan oil wells threaten communities across California. Once oil and gas wells are done producing, experts say they need to be sealed to prevent pollution and protect the health and safety of nearby communities.

However, many operators fail to do that and abandon the wells. This means it's then left to local communities to deal with the health effects.

Kern County’s Director of Planning and Natural Resources Lorelei Oviatt says orphaned wells in Kern were permitted by the state and says it needs to step up and plug the leaking wells located in disadvantaged communities.

“We would like to see CalGEM [Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources] which is the people responsible for this prioritize the disadvantaged communities, the places where people live around Arvin, Lamont, and these areas."

Oviatt goes on to say that even though the money for capping the wells has not been reconciled with Governor Gavin Newsom's overall budget, she would like to see the state prioritize Kern County when the time comes.

Oviatt says the county can only show its support for environmental protection and cannot allocate its own money to this cleanup because it does not want to take away from other necessary resources like the fire department, sheriff’s office, and Kern County libraries, and instead is demanding the state take responsibility for its permits.