The Rising Cost of the Oil Industry’s Slow Death

The Rising Cost of the Oil Industry’s Slow Death

Unplugged oil and gas wells accelerate climate change, threaten public health and risk hitting taxpayers’ pocketbooks. ProPublica and Capital & Main found that the money set aside to fix the problem falls woefully short of the impending cost.

In the 165 years since the first American oil well struck black gold, the industry has punched millions of holes in the earth, seeking profits gushing from the ground. Now, those wells are running dry, and a generational bill is coming due.

Until wells are properly plugged, many leak oil and brine onto farmland and into waterways and emit toxic and explosive gasses, rendering redevelopment impossible. A noxious lake inundates West Texas ranchland, oil bubbles into a downtown Los Angeles apartment building and gas seeps into the yards of suburban Ohio homes.

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