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Council SVP Testifies Before House Subcommittee

SVP Government Affairs Tim TarpleyCouncil SVP Government Affairs Tim Tarpley testified on behalf of the energy technology and services sector during a congressional hearing on April 15 about Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez’s (D-NM-3) “Orphaned Well Clean-up and Jobs Act of 2021,” which proposes a three-tiered grant program allocating $7.2 billion to remediate wells on state and private lands.

In his testimony, Tarpley highlighted how Council Member Companies are spearheading the efforts to plug and remediate orphaned wells across the country. He highlighted A-Plus Well Services, a Member Company based in Farmington, NM. A-Plus is a model for how using federal funds to expand existing state well plugging programs could benefit the environment, create jobs and solve this critical issue. 

Tarpley made three specific suggestions to the bill’s current text, which also would apply to other legislative proposals lawmakers are considering. First, it should be a bipartisan bill that can pass the House and Senate and ultimately become law. Second, the federal money should be distributed in a way that encourages new states to participate and expands successfully run state programs already in existence. Third, the program should be adequately funded to address the true scope of the orphaned well problem.  

Tarpley expressed concerns that the Fernandez bill includes mandates that would require states to accept new federal standards as a condition of participation. He urged the committee to consider the bipartisan bill authored by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) that does not contain so many complex regulatory requirements.  

In the question and answer portion of the hearing Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-8) asked Tarpley what he thought about the Biden Administration’s ban on new federal lands oil and gas leases.

Tarpley said the sector is concerned by the undefined term of this federal leasing ban, and the large economic and environmental impact this ongoing moratorium will cause.

“It is still unclear how long the moratorium on federal leasing is going to last, so it is bringing in a lot of uncertainty into the industry. We anticipate that if it lasts the whole first term, we could lose an additional 58,000 jobs, and that is on top of the nearly 86,000 we’ve lost in the past year due to the COVID-19 demand crisis.”

Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs, Energy Workforce & Technology Council

In addition to Tarpley’s testimony, the Subcommittee also heard from:

  • Lori Wrotenbery, Executive Director, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
  • Mary Kang, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, McGill University
  • Don Schreiber, Rancher, Rio Arriba County, NM
  • Ted Boettner, Senior Researcher, Ohio River Valley Institute
  • Tom Kropatsch, Deputy Oil and Gas Supervisor, Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

All witnesses agreed that orphaned wells are a critical environmental issue that must be resolved as quickly as possible. These experts concurred that the legislation, if implemented correctly, could lead to job creation in areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 economic downturn.

For more information on the Council’s advocacy efforts, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.