William Suan is no stranger to the problems abandoned oil and gas wells can cause. “It’s just an eyesore,” he said, standing inside a barn on his cattle ranch near Lost Creek, West Virginia. “I had to fence one off because it’s leaking now.”
There are five inactive wells on his land, most installed in the ’60s and ’70s, and the companies that owned the wells have long since gone out of business. On a recent rainy Monday, Suan treks down a muddy hill on the backside of his property. Hidden in the wooded thicket is a three-foot-tall rusted tube jutting out of the ground.