§22-10-6. Establishment of priorities for plugging expenditures.

(a) Within one year of the effective date of this article, the director shall promulgate legislative rules establishing a priority system by which available funds from the oil and gas reclamation fund, established pursuant to section twenty-nine, article six of this chapter, will be expended to plug abandoned wells. The rules shall, at a minimum, establish three primary classifications to be as follows:

(1) Wells which are an immediate threat to the environment or which may hinder or impede the development of mineral resources of this state so as to require immediate plugging;

(2) Wells which are not an immediate threat to the environment or which do not hinder or impede the development of mineral resources of this state but which should be plugged consistent with available resources; and

(3) Wells which are not a threat to the environment and which do not hinder or impede the development of mineral resources of this state and for which plugging may be deferred for an indefinite period.

(b) Such classifications shall, among other things, take into consideration the following factors, as appropriate:

(1) The age of the well;

(2) The length of time the well has been abandoned;

(3) The casing remaining in the well;

(4) The presence of any leaks either at the surface or underground;

(5) The possibility or existence of groundwater contamination;

(6) Whether the well is located in an area to be developed for enhanced recovery;

(7) Whether the well hinders or impedes mineral development; and

(8) Whether the well is located in close proximity to population.