Senate to Feds: Clean Up Those Old Wells

The Senate today joined the voices of Alaskans complaining about those unplugged exploratory oil wells that are polluting the National Petroleum Reserve- Alaska.

The 137 wells were drilled on federal land by the federal government between 1944 and 1982.  And so far, only seven of them have been properly closed.    Wasilla Republican Charlie Huggins said the Department of the Interior wants to limit its responsibility to sealing and cleaning only one well per year.

There are 43 of these wells that are flagrantly outside of any standard by any stretch of the imagination.  There are three that can’t even be found in the northern tier, in the arctic, in the area that is quote “so prone to pollution and is so fragile.”

Huggins said that some environmental groups have used photos of the federal wells as examples of resource management by private industry.  He said if the wells had been the responsibility of Alaska or the oil industry,  they would have faced Billions of dollars in fines – and would have been vilified by the news media.

Over the years, there’s been approximately $9-Billion collected by the federal government in NPR-A and OCS – Outer Continental Shelf – for lease sales.  That would go a long way to the problem we have in pollution of our northern tier.

The House needs to agree with a minor correction the Senate made.  Once done, it will be sent to the White House, the Department of the Interior and the state’s Congressional delegation.

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ddonaldson (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.586.6948 | About Dave

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