Sens. Cruz, Braun, Casey Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Addressing Environmental Hazards of Abandoned Oil Wells

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Orphan Well Grant Flexibility Act to empower states to maximize their operational flexibility within the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as they close abandoned oil wells. Orphaned oil wells often go abandoned and unchecked for years, and can pose serious environmental hazards by leaking toxic chemicals and contaminating essential water resources.

Upon introducing the bill, Sen. Cruz said, “I am proud to lead the effort with Senator Braun to remove power from unelected Washington bureaucrats in dictating how abandoned orphan wells must be plugged. This bill will empower state governments, like Texas, with the flexibility they need to make the best decisions for their constituents.”
Cosponsors include Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim Risch (R-Idaho.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Click here to read full bill text. 


Orphaned wells, or abandoned wells, are oil or gas wells that have been abandoned and have no legal owner. These old wells, either unplugged or improperly plugged (i.e. not filled in and closed), can allow contaminants into nearby land and water, leak harmful air pollutants, and reduce property values by up to 12 percent. As of August 2022, there were 7,960 orphaned wells in Texas according to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

This legislation is endorsed by a coalition of organizations, including: Independent Petroleum Association of America, National Ground Water Association, The Groundwater Foundation, National Conference of State Legislatures, Earth and Water Group, Heritage Action, ConservAmerica, The Boone and Crockett Club, Wildlife Management Institute, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, and the Well Done Foundation.


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