CHARLESTON \u2014 A lawyer for people who have gas drilling operations on their property is pushing for an \u201cOrphan Well Prevention Act.\u201d\r\n\r\nDavid McMahon is presenting the push as a property rights issue for surface owners dealing with abandoned wells on their land.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not reasonable to leave one of these wells on your property when it\u2019s no longer producing,\u201d McMahon said Friday at the state Capitol.\r\n\r\nAmong those with interest is Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, the vice chairman of the House Energy Committee.\r\n<div id="attachment_263783" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="wp-image-263783 size-thumbnail" src="http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-100x150.jpg?x43308" sizes="(max-width: 100px) 100vw, 100px" srcset="http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-100x150.jpg 100w, http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-200x300.jpg 200w, http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-112x168.jpg 112w, http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-188x282.jpg 188w, http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john-215x323.jpg 215w, http:\/\/wvmetronews.com\/wordpress\/wp-content\/uploads\/2018\/02\/kelly_john.jpg 216w" alt="" width="100" height="150" \/>John Kelly<\/div>\r\n\u201cPlugging, we know, is a problem,\u201d Kelly said in a Friday interview. \u201cThat\u2019s one of the things we\u2019re trying to look at.\u201d\r\n\r\nMcMahon\u2019s concern is the 12,000 wells in West Virginia that have stopped producing at all. Drillers are required to plug them but that often goes undone.\r\n\r\nMany drillers have gone out of business, leaving more than 4,000 wells orphaned.\r\n\r\nThe state does collect bond money for such instances, but that money only goes so far. McMahon has estimated the state has money to plug about 10 of those wells each year.\r\n\r\nThe wells may leak gas into the air, leak oil and brine onto the ground or leak gas or contaminated water into surrounding good groundwater.\r\n\r\n\u201cAll this can happen if the well isn\u2019t properly plugged,\u201d said McMahon, who represents the West Virginia Surface Owners\u2019 Rights Organization.\r\n\r\nHe proposes a bill that would change the way bonding is done.\r\n\r\nRather than allowing each driller to post only a single blanket performance bond for all of the wells it owns, McMahon is advocating alternatives.\r\n\r\nHe suggests requiring bonds that would apply to single wells or depositing money for future plugging into an escrow account with the State Treasurer while the well is still producing.\r\n\r\nThe amounts should be determined by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Treasurer, McMahon said.\r\n\r\nDelegate Kelly is a sponsor of a bill reflecting what McMahon has described. Kelly said he wanted to get the bill on paper to start debating the details.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe need to get down in the weeds,\u201d Kelly said. \u201cWe need to give them a fair hearing.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe delegate said there are also efforts to identify additional money to plug abandoned wells. \u201cIt\u2019s very expensive to plug a well,\u201d Kelly said.