Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sept. 9 that aims to cap more idle oil and gas wells.
Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, authored AB 2729, which ensures that funding is available to cap idle wells and creates disincentives for operators to maintain large numbers of idle wells. The bill also broadens the definition by no longer excluding active observation wells.
California has more than 21,000 idle wells, 2,200 of which are in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Williams said. Existing legal mechanisms do not sufficiently incentivize owners to properly cap wells and there are few resources to clean up the sites when they have been abandoned, he said. Taxpayers often have to foot the bill, Williams said.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, also has a similar bill — Senate Bill 900, the Coast Oil Well Cleanup Act — which has not yet been signed by Brown.
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