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Thank you, to Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., for passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. It provided funding to plug some of the 6,500 orphaned oil and gas wells left behind because irresponsible drillers did not plug them before they went out of business, compounded by inadequate state laws and underfunded and inadequately empowered state agencies.

Unfortunately, there are thousands and thousands more wells that also might soon be orphaned with no driller to plug them. These wells have not produced in the past 12 months or much, much longer, and, unless the state Legislature passes the Orphaned Well Prevention Act, an irresponsible industry will continue to leave them behind on the property of farmers and other landowners. (Passage of that Orphaned Well Prevention Act by our Legislature likely also would let West Virginia draw down even more Bipartisan Infrastructure Act money to plug additional orphaned wells).

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David McMahon is a lawyer and co-founder of the West Virginia Surface Owner’s Rights Organization.

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