Toxic Legacy Of Old Oil Wells: California’s Multibillion-Dollar Problem

“ARVIN, Calif. — Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

From Kern County to Los Angeles, companies haven’t set aside anywhere near enough money to ensure these drilling sites are cleaned up and made safe for future generations, according to a months-long data analysis and investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Public Integrity.

Of particular concern are about 35,000 wells sitting idle, with production suspended, half of them for more than a decade. Though California recently toughened its regulations to ensure more cleanup funds are available, those measures don’t go far enough, according to a recent state report and the Times/Public Integrity analysis.”

Mark Olalde and Ryan Menezes report for the Los Angeles Times co-published with the Center for Public Integrity February 6, 2020.