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Minutes for HB2022 - Committee on Ways and Means

Short Title

Updating the state corporation commission's authority to regulate and determine responsibility for abandoned oil and gas wells and abolishing the well plugging assurance fund and transferring all assets and liabilities to the abandoned oil and gas well fund.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 11, 2021

Chairperson Billinger opened the hearing on HB 2022.  Nick Myers, Office of the Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of the bill.  (Attachment 1)

Dwight Keen, Commissioner, Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), testified as a proponent of the bill.  This bill was rigorously drafted and represents one of the most consequential pieces of environmental protection legislation to come before the Kansas Legislature.  This would provide access to fee fund resources and would be a win for the environment, for the regulatory process and for the regulated oil and gas industry.  It also provides clarity to the process of identifying the responsible party for plugging abandoned oil and gas wells.  (Attachment 2)

Ryan Hoffman, Director of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division, KCC, spoke in support of the bill.  There was an issue with a well that had been in place since 1905 that resulted in lengthy litigation.    This bill will combine two existing funds and clarify responsibility for plugging wells, which will eliminate drawn out litigation.  Funding is going to be an issue but they plan to address this in the next couple legislative sessions.  Mr. Hoffman responded to questions from Committee members.  (Attachment 3)

David Bleakley, Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, stood in favor of the bill.  This bill addresses decades of attempts to define: what is an abandoned well; who has the legal responsibility for the proper care, control and plugging of an abandoned well; and how the KCC administers the current ambiguous abandoned well regulations.  This bill has been worked on for years and brings clarity and financial security.  (Attachment 4)

Chris McGown, President of the Eastern Kansas Oil and Gas Association, testified in support of the bill.  He participated in drafting of this bill and believes it is an important step towards enhancing operational clarity, certainty and efficiency by defining what an abandoned well is and who is responsible for plugging them.  (Attachment 5)

Zack Pistora, Sierra Club, spoke as a proponent of the bill as it holds a lot of promise for helping the environment in Kansas.  This bill has come a long way and this is the first time his organization is on the proponent side of this issue.  There is a lot of work to do so partnerships will help move this forward.  We may need to look at new strategies and funding to get these wells plugged quickly and he has seen some interest at the federal level to assist financially with this effort.  Mr. Pistora included in his testimony a request to retain some stricken language regarding polluting water.  (Attachment 6) 

There being no further conferees, Chairperson Billinger closed the hearing on HB 2022.