Plug the Wells, Restore the Marsh

Louisiana needs to address the problem of abandoned oilfield sites. Individuals and organizations can submit formal comments to theDepartment of Natural Resources(DNR)to apply the law on abandonment of oilfield sites.Oilfield sites have scarred Louisiana for generations, becoming worse in spite of DNR efforts.Although Louisiana law and regulations require companies to “plug-and-abandon” non-producing sites, regulations have included large loopholes. Coupled with weak enforcement, this has led to thousands of useless open canals.The Louisiana Legislative Auditor recently released a report condemning DNR’s oversight of these sites. This report has sparked a ‘rulemaking’–DNR recognizes that it needs to close the loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to shirk their duties to the public trust.The Green Army has drafted extensive comments on the shortcomings of the existing rules and the specific needs to reform the rules. Click here to send your own comment to the DNR.Louisiana has a critical need to ensure that oilfield sites are properly “plugged and abandoned.” This is for our coast, for our wildlife, our public health and our public safety. Studies show, and DNR agrees, that abandoned oilfield sites are a threat to public health and a threat to clean water. Unplugged wells serve as conduits for contamination, and are a threat to groundwater. Abandoned oilfield sites often include abandoned storage tanks, flowlines leaking oil and waste, toxic waste pits, and other structures and facilities.And Louisiana has thousands of these sites. Oilfield pollution affects groundwater, and unrestored sites are a major cause of land loss.Abandoned oilfield sites are particularly alarming on Wildlife Management Areas. Oil and Gas has cut and run from their duties to restore these sites.For example, the Pointe aux Chenes, Dewey Wills, and Salvador Wildlife Management Areas (and many others) all have abandoned oilfield operations. Leaking and uncared for oil and gas facilities pose a threat to the same ecosystem values that these lands were established to preserve.Comments are due August 20 at 4:30 PM, and should be submitted to Brent Campbell, Office of Conservation, Engineering-Regulatory Division, P.O. Box 94275, Capital Station, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9275, or via fax at (225) 242-3663. Comments should include the reference code “CON ENG 14-01.”Link to Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report criticizing DNR’s oversight of plug-and-abandonment:$FILE/000010BC.pdfScott Eustis is GRN’s Coastal Wetland Specialist. This piece was co-authored by the Green GRN’s 2011 memo on canal and dredging impact by corporation, based on DNR data from 2011

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