Mar. 26, 2024

HARRISBURG – Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), Republican chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy (ERE) Committee, is calling on the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to engage in an honest conversation about orphaned and abandoned wells in the Commonwealth.

Causer’s comments came after an ERE hearing Monday in which DEP and several like-minded special interest groups continued to blame today’s conventional oil and gas producers for wells abandoned many decades or even more than a century ago, rather than focusing on initiatives that would actually resolve the problem.

“DEP’s propensity for publicizing incorrect, incomplete and misleading data is a major impediment to our efforts to plug wells that were abandoned so long ago that no responsible party remains to plug them,” Causer said. “I think we all want to see the influx of federal dollars for well plugging be used wisely, but there are some significant impediments to that, including DEP’s flawed database.”

Arthur Stewart, president of Cameron Energy, echoed Causer’s concerns about DEP data and shared specific examples of the negative impact of that erroneous data during his testimony at the hearing. He also pointed to multiple requests for answers from DEP to eight specific questions regarding the database.

“For 10 months, the DEP has failed in its promise to answer those eight questions. Respectfully, when the DEP does answer the eight questions, we will see that the vast majority of today’s conventional industry is made up of responsible operators who plug wells and operate wells exactly as the law expects,” Stewart said.

Watch that excerpt of Stewart’s testimony here.

Causer also pressed for answers about DEP’s data during his questioning of Kurt Klapkowski, DEP’s deputy secretary for the Office of Oil and Gas.

“You realize if there’s flawed data, everything we’re talking about here today can be off base because you have to be able to look at the data, and you have to be able to trust the data – and right now no one trusts that data,” Causer said.

Watch that excerpt of Causer’s questioning here.

Causer closed the hearing saying the committee needs additional time to talk with DEP to fully examine all the aspects of the state’s orphan and abandoned wells.

“For them to answer five minutes of questions and truly not give us really any answers and then scurry out of the room, I don’t think is appropriate,” Causer said. “I would suggest we have more real discussions on this issue.”

The hearing agenda was set by the committee’s Democrat chairman and allowed just 15 minutes for each testifier to offer his or her testimony and take questions from committee members.

Watch Causer’s closing remarks here.

The entire hearing is available for viewing here.

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
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