NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A national study has found hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells within a 30-mile radius of national park sites in New Mexico. Conducted by the National Parks Conservation Association, the analysis found Aztec Ruins National Monument near Farmington ranked first in the state with 260 abandoned oil and gas wells with Carlsbad Caverns coming in second with 198.
Chaco Culture Historical Park had 44 abandoned wells. The report explains “orphaned” oil and gas wells are no longer used, abandoned facilities where the original owner is unable to pay debts owed or there is no owner of the record.
The association reports that abandoned wells can leak methane and contaminate groundwater which could lead to respiratory problems including asthma, frequent headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. The analysis found 31,737 orphaned oil and gas wells within a 30-mile radius of national park sites nationwide and a total of 214,538 untraceable orphaned wells that require rehabilitation across the U.S.
According to the association, the report comes after the introduction of two bills to address the issue. The Orphaned Well Cleanup and Jobs Act is led by New Mexico Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez while the Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act is led by Senator Bennet.