S.D. House backs plan for ‘orphaned’ gas wells in Harding County

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Forty gas wells in northwestern South Dakota their owner abandoned would be reclaimed by state government under a three-part plan lawmakers considered Wednesday.

The state House of Representatives voted 61-6 for higher bonds on some oil and gas wells in HB 1025.

Then the House voted 65-0 for HB 1026 that would give the state Board of Minerals and Environment broader authority in how it uses forfeited bonds.

The two measures now head to the Senate for committee hearings.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources already has the $30,000 bond that Spyglass Cedar Creek had posted for the gas field in southern Harding County.

The state board wants to also use a $130,000 bond that was forfeited by an oil well project near Wasta.

The third piece of Governor Kristi Noem’s package, SB 17, would appropriate up to $727,700 from the state treasury to complete the Spyglass cleanup.

DENR officials have estimated the total cost at about $877,000.

“We have a bankrupt company and responsibility falls to the state (government),” Representative Thomas Brunner, a Nisland Republican, said during the House discussion of HB 1025.

Representative Oren Lesmeister, a Parade Democrat, explained why he was the only committee member to vote against the bill. He said he wanted the bond amounts raised even higher.

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