When Weatherly Oil and Gas filed for bankruptcy in February 2019, the company was walking away from several hundred Texas wells. Many hadn’t produced a drop of oil in years. Companies are legally required to “plug” wells that they’re no longer using to extract oil and gas by pouring concrete into all their openings and cracks; this prevents them from leaking fossil fuels or harmful pollutants into the air and water sources nearby. But many companies that abandon wells say they no longer have the financial means to do so, leaving government regulators on the hook for the cost. The problem is massive: There are approximately 2.1 million unplugged abandoned wells across the country. The Texas Railroad Commission, or RRC, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry, tried to make sure Weatherly would pay up, objecting to the state’s bankruptcy plan because it didn’t include sufficient information about […]