The State House recently approved House Bill 2644, which would help increase the number of clogged orphan wells across the state.
Under the bill, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be required to create a new initiative that would provide grants to experienced well plugging companies that strive to maximize the volume of plugged orphan wells.
To plug wells 3,000 feet or less in depth, grants totaling $10,000 would be awarded. To plug wells over 3,000 feet deep, grants totaling $20,000 would be awarded.
In addition, the bill sets current bond amounts for conventional wells that comply with the law and states that the Environmental Quality Commission cannot adjust these amounts by regulation.
“We have well over 200,000 orphan wells in Pennsylvania, and some years the Department of Environmental Protection only plugs five wells,” said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), the main sponsor of the bill. debate in the chamber of the House. “With federal infrastructure money on its way to the Commonwealth, we finally have the opportunity to accelerate our well connection efforts, which will benefit both the environment and our communities.”
The majority of federal funds would go to the existing DEP program.
The bill is now sent to the Senate for consideration.