Washington’s brilliant new plan to clean up legacy wells
posted at 12:31 pm on April 28, 2013 by Jazz Shaw
Back in February, we told you about the touchy situation in Alaska where some actual incidents of pollution can be found. But instead of finding the culprits at the various Big Oil companies which are regularly demonized, the wells are under the care of the US Bureau of Land Management, having been drilled at the direction of the government over a span of decades. Now they’re leaking and causing a big mess, but the BLM hasn’t been getting the job done to plug them and clean them up. The reason, of course, is because they claim they can’t afford to do it.
Well, never fear. Under the latest plan hatched out of the White House… problem solved.
State officials and Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski aren’t happy about a plan by the U.S. Interior Department to divert the state’s 50 percent share of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska revenues to pay for the cleanup of old wells drilled by the federal government.
Many of wells, drilled decades ago, are leaking oil and gas.
Some of the state’s 50 percent share would also be used to pay for conveyance of federal lands to the state and Alaska Native corporations. The land obligations to the state were made under the Alaska Statehood Act of 1959. The land obligations to Native corporations were under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, spokeswoman Erin Curtis confirmed that the plan to divert the state royalty share was a part of President Barack Obama’s budget for the 2014 fiscal year submitted to Congress.
You can almost hear the President’s thought process when this little item came up during internal budget discussions. Hrmmm. We can’t afford to clean up our mess in Alaska. But the Republicans want more independence and authority for the states, right?”
Well, yes. But we didn’t mean you should transfer your bills to the states. Were this plan to be adopted, it would essentially just take funds which are due the state of Alaska for the National Petroleum Reserve and “divert” it to cover the cost of plugging and cleaning up the wells. That’s a great business model if you happened to be an organized crime lord, but it’s rather difficult to justify in court, don’t you think? Of course, the odds of anyone actually voting for one of Obama’s budgets mean that this may never see the light of day, but we’ll need to keep our eyes open and make sure it doesn’t sneak into a different budget plan which may actually get a vote.