"Old oil and gas sites are a climate menace. Meet the company that owns more of America’s decaying wells than any other."
"Outside of hunting season, few people visit the Tri-Valley Wildlife Area in the rolling hills of southeast Ohio. When a couple of Bloomberg Green reporters showed up on a muggy June morning, the only sounds were birdsongs and the whirring of our infrared camera. We set out on foot and soon spotted the first of several rusty natural gas wells scattered across a broad meadow. Their storage tanks, half-covered with vines and brush, looked like the forgotten monuments of some lost civilization.
There are hundreds of thousands of such decrepit oil and gas wells across the U.S., and for a long time few people paid them much mind. That changed over the past decade as scientists discovered the surprisingly large role they play in the climate crisis. Old wells tend to leak, and raw natural gas consists mostly of methane, which has far more planet-warming power than carbon dioxide. That morning in Ohio we pointed our camera at busted pipes, rusted joints, and broken valves, and we saw the otherwise invisible greenhouse gas jetting out. A sour smell lingered in the air.
To Rusty Hutson, it smells like money."