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RRC plug more than 430 orphaned wells so far

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AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas highlighted the agency’s extensive work and expertise in plugging orphaned oil and gas wells during a visit from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in Houston last week.

When a well ceases production, the majority of operators fulfill their obligations and responsibly plug their wells to prevent leaks and protect the environment. Last year 88% of wells plugged were plugged by operators. The RRC steps in to plug wells when an operator goes out of business and collects on the operator’s financial assurance and seeks reimbursement through legal proceedings.  

In October, Texas was the first state in the nation to begin plugging orphaned oil and gas wells using an initial grant from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The RRC has plugged more than 430 wells so far with that federal grant.

Those well pluggings supplement RRC’s annual well pluggings in the State Managed Plugging Program (SMP). No taxpayer money is used at all for the SMP; all the funding is through oil and gas industry revenue including, but not limited to multiple fees, and bonds and financial security paid by oil and gas operators.

The next inflow of federal well plugging funds will be through formula grants. RRC submitted comments on draft formula grant guidance recently issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The RRC is concerned the draft requirements place administrative burdens that go beyond the scope of the legislation that authorized the well plugging funds. There’s also concern about a proposed phased approach to releasing formula funds, versus releasing the total amount at once.   

“Among all oil and gas producing states, we’re a leader in addressing orphan wells, and the Legislature has passed several measures to create incentives to reduce orphan wells in Texas,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “We’ve built great momentum using federal funds to plug wells, and we urged Secretary Haaland to help us keep the momentum. Less than two percent of oil and gas wells in the state are orphaned, and getting the formula funds quickly will help us proceed without unnecessary interruptions.”

Clay Woodul, RRC Assistant Director of the Oil and Gas Division for Field Operations, shows Secretary Deb Haaland and members of Congress an orphaned well scheduled to be plugged in Houston

Clay Woodul, RRC Assistant Director of the Oil and Gas Division for Field Operations, shows Secretary Deb Haaland and members of Congress an orphaned well scheduled to be plugged in Houston.

The RRC anticipates plugging about 800 wells this fiscal year using the initial federal grant, which would be in addition to at least 1,000 well pluggings through the SMP.

The agency’s comments on the draft formula grant guidance can be found on the RRC website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/media/4ilhvfga/iija-draft-formual-grant_rrc-texas-comments_2_24.pdf


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Foot, K-9 search planned Tuesday for missing man

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A search is planned Tuesday for Bryce Degler, missing for almost one week.

The Clay County Sheriff’s office has organized the search where law enforcement will be using search dogs, a plane and drones to search specific areas in Clay County, along with deputies and paramedics walking the area in hopes of finding Bryce. The group will be small as to not throw off the search dogs. The focus will be in the area where Dingler’s truck was found last Wednesday.

The Nocona News Facebook page stated Monday evening: “At the request of Dr. Len Dingler, while everyone’s desires to help find their missing son Bryce are appreciated, the family asks you limit your support tomorrow to prayers and allow the professionals do their jobs, unhindered with extra untrained bodies and false footprints which could divert their efforts.” Bryce is Len’s son.

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Reward set up for information for missing man Bryce Dingler

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Petition seeks to remove DA from office

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Casey Hall

By BARBARA GREEN
[email protected]
A petition was filed mid-week with the 97th District Clerk seeking the removal of 97th District Attorney Casey Hall for “incompetency or official misconduct.”
The document was filed by Tim Cole, former DA and longtime area attorney, on July 17. Texas law allows any resident of the county where the allegations occurred to file such a petition on any elected official.
As of Friday noon, no judge had been assigned and Hall had not been served notice of the filing per the district court.
A recent example of this type of petition occurred in Clay County in January 2023 after Sheriff Jeff Lyde was arrested on charges of official oppression. Former District Judge Frank Douthitt filed that petition and the state was represented by Hall and the Clay County attorney Seth Slagle.
Casey Hall, DA for the three-county 97th District since 2016, was arrested on July 8 on a grand jury indictment for theft of property $2,500 to $30,000, a state jail felony. She was released on a $5,000 bond. The allegations stem from misappropriation of state grant funds with the investigation conducted by the Texas Attorney General’s staff.
Removal action
The removal action is directed to David Evans, judge of the 8th administrative judicial region, which has jurisdiction in this case. It seeks to have the officer removed for incompetency or official misconduct, acts or omissions while in the performance of her duties as the district attorney.

Read the full story in the weekend Bowie News.

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