We are unaware of any federal assistance to plug a well for a private landowner.
Yes there is. The State of Ohio has two programs that may pay for the plugging of a well: the Orphan Well Plugging Program and the Landowner Pass-through Plugging Program. The Orphan Well Plugging Program was established in 1977 and addresses higher priority wells without a responsible Well Owner.
The Landowner Pass-through well plugging program is for lower priority wells where the landowner takes a more active role, including negotiating a well plugging contract with a qualified well plugging contractor, to have wells plugged on their property. The public funding of well plugging is based on a priority matrix determined primarily by well safety issues. It typically takes several years for a specific well to move through either program to the eventual plugging of the well with State of Ohio funds.
In 2019 ODNR plugged 92 wells in the Orphan Well Program in 25 counties for a total cost of $6,398,857 or $68,911 per well (source: ODNR 2019 Orphan Well Plugging Report). The Landowner Pass-through plugging program was inactive in 2019.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources also has an Emergency Services Program to address “sudden problems that threatens physical harm to the public and is an immediate hazard.” And, if the well is located on land owned by a local government entity, there may be cost-sharing funds available from ODNR to get the well plugged.
The producers of oil and gas in Ohio pay a severance tax on oil and gas production. A portion of the severance tax, currently 30%, is allocated to the Orphan Well Plugging Program.
To find more information on this program go to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website: Click here
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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management in Columbus can be contacted by telephone at 614-265-6922. More specific information on the Orphan Well Plugging Program can be obtained by calling 330-308-0007 or by email at OrphanWellProgram@dnr.state.oh.us.