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Project April 6, 2021

Looming Liabilities: Abandoned Wells in the Permian

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Oil companies are legally required to clean up wells once they stop producing. But as operators filed for bankruptcy over the years and walked away from their environmental obligations, thousands of wells in Texas and New Mexico became the states’ responsibility. The pandemic and a subsequent oil glut have worsened the situation.

In this visually stunning and immersive project, Grist and the Texas Observer model the wells that are likely to be abandoned in the coming years and chronicle the experiences of two Texas ranchers struggling to hold oil companies accountable for polluting their properties.

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