(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) Oil and gas have been continuously produced in West Virginia for over one hundred years, during which time operators of wells have been required by the laws of this state to plug wells upon cessation of use;
(2) The plugging requirements for certain older oil and gas and other wells may not have been sufficient to protect underground water supplies, to prevent the movement of fluids between geologic horizons, to allow coal operators to mine through such wells safely, nor to allow for enhanced recovery of oil, gas or other mineral resources of this state;
(3) Many wells may exist in West Virginia which are abandoned and either not plugged or not properly plugged in a manner to protect underground water supplies, to prevent the movement of fluids between geologic horizons, to allow coal operators to mine through such wells safely, to allow for enhanced recovery of oil, gas and other mineral resources, and generally to protect the environment and mineral resources of this state, as aforesaid;
(4) Requirements for financial responsibility to assure plugging of abandoned wells have not been required in this state for older wells, and adequate financial responsibility should be established with respect to all wells;
(5) Programs and policies should be implemented to foster, encourage and promote through the fullest practical means the proper plugging of abandoned wells to protect the environment and mineral resources of this state;
(6) Criteria should be established with respect to priorities for the expenditure of moneys available for plugging abandoned wells and identifying those abandoned wells which, as a matter of public policy, should be plugged first; and
(7) The plugging of many abandoned wells may be accomplished through the establishment of rights and procedures allowing interested persons to apply for a permit to plug an abandoned well.
(b) The Legislature hereby declares that it is in the public interest and it is the public policy of this state, to foster, encourage and promote the proper plugging of all wells at the time of their abandonment to protect the environment and mineral resources of this state.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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