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WV’s U.S. House members split on abandoned wells research bill

By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s two delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives are split on legislation targeting one of West Virginia’s most pervasive environmental issues: abandoned gas and oil wells.

Abandoned wells that fast-track climate change and emit carcinogens, as well as other harmful chemicals, are especially prevalent in West Virginia. The state is riddled with thousands of orphaned wells with no solvent owner, for which taxpayers are liable for reclamation costs.

The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass the bipartisan Abandoned Wells Remediation, Research and Development Act, legislation that directs the Department of Energy to execute a research, development and demonstration program on abandoned wells.

Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., joined a heavy majority in the House’s 333-75 vote for the legislation led in sponsorship by Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., a 2024 U.S. Senate candidate on the Republican ballot, voted against the bill, which now heads to the Senate.

Spokespeople for Miller and Mooney did not respond to requests Thursday for comment on the legislation.

The Energy Department has acknowledged that the United States has hundreds of thousands of undocumented orphaned wells.

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