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.


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…great!

KOOLAID2 on April 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM

somedays I wonder what it is that the government actually does besides steal our money and live high on the hog with it.

unseen on April 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM

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. 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.

…so DC parties!

KOOLAID2 on April 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Before a federal agency, the Air Force, for example, can transfer Air Force land to a state or community, are they not required to clean up all pollutants and sources of pollution on that land prior to the transfer?

How can the White House tell BLM to give the land to the locals, or Alaska…so the receiving entity will be on the hook for clean-up?

coldwarrior on April 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Well, they do have to have their priority of sending billions in aid and weaponry to the Muslim Brotherhood.

skspls on April 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

How about the feds just gift all land and wells and whatever else the hell they own in alaska to the state? Then its the states problem, and they can divert their own ridiculous royalty payments to pay for it.

Enough of every issue being a federal issue. I know that I don’t want my federal tax dollars having anything to do with drilling or cleaning up wells. Let alaska have sovereignty over their own lands and their own wells.

Timin203 on April 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Look up OERB in Oklahoma. That is how we manage a situation like this. We have wells over 100 years old. When we find ‘em, we fix ‘em. Of course, the bureaucrats in Washington think the coin slot on the pay toilet is for the toilet to pay them to take a pee. They know no other way.

Old Country Boy on April 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM

How can the White House tell BLM to give the land to the locals, or Alaska…so the receiving entity will be on the hook for clean-up?

coldwarrior on April 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I guarantee it is nowhere near as expensive to cap and clean these wells as the federal government is making it sound. If I were Alaska, I’d gladly pay for it if they could get some of their sovereignty back from the federal govt.

Timin203 on April 28, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Maybe the have sneaked it into Obamacare. Now that it’s passed we can find out.

Herb on April 28, 2013 at 12:45 PM

I’m sure King Barry has some of that “stimulus” money lying around. Here’s a chance for The Chosen One to actually create some jobs.

GarandFan on April 28, 2013 at 1:29 PM

When this nation was formed, the Federal government was charged with guaranteeing the national debt and its repayment. Now this is to be turned on its head?

Obama truly has no clue, does he?

ss396 on April 28, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Maybe we should just can the fed gubmint and start all over again.

petefrt on April 28, 2013 at 1:50 PM

petefrt: ding, ding, ding!

rgranger on April 28, 2013 at 2:39 PM

You know who caused this mess in ALASKA, don’t you?
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.Don’t you?
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It’s not that hard….
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Sarah PALIN!

JFKY on April 28, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Sounds like the Democrats in CA led the way again. The state has been under a federal court order to expand the prisons and improve medical care for prisoners.

After spending billions of dollars over the past decade, the courts have said not good enough. So the Dems (who hold every elected office in Sacramento and a super-majority of both houses of the legislature) said screw it. They passed a law that directs the state prison system to ship prisoners to city and county jails and give early release to others.

So the cities and counties are now stuck with the bill. Oh, yeah. The CA prison guard union bankrolls every Dem politician in the state. A few years ago former Gov. Grey Davis gave the union members a 35% pay raise just in time for his battle with Arnold. It costs something like $50K/yr to house a prisoner in CA vs. $15K in TX.

in_awe on April 28, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Everyone that lives in Alaska gets a check in the mail just for living there.

I don’t see the problem with using a portion of that check to pay for cleaning up oil and gas wells that ultimately paid for those checks.

Should the feds have administered the wells? Up to you. But in the end we’re arguing over entitlement money. And I see no reason for people in the other 49 states to pay for alaska’s dirty well when the alaskans have been getting paid for their oil all along.

It seems reasonable to me…

Karmashock on April 29, 2013 at 2:06 AM

Back in January you listed a LUST (leaking underground storage tank) site which is NOT a leaking well.

Completely different animal.

May as well and list polluted sites on Mars it would be about as accurate.

Kermit on April 29, 2013 at 8:38 AM