Oil Companies Contaminated a Family Farm. Regulators Let Them Walk Away.

"The oil and gas industry has reaped profits without ensuring there will be money to plug and clean up their wells. In Oklahoma, that work could cost more than $7 billion if it falls to the state."

"The first sign of trouble bubbled up from gopher holes a stone’s throw from Stan Ledgerwood’s front door. The salt water left an oily sheen on the soil and a swath of dead grass in the yard.

It was June 2017, and Ledgerwood and his wife, Tina, had recently built a home on the family farm, 230 acres of green amidst the rolling hills and long horizons of south-central Oklahoma. There they planned to spend their retirement, close to Stan’s parents on land that has been in the family since 1920.

The view from the porch took in Stan’s parents’ house, two rows of pecan trees his great-grandfather had planted in the 1930s, and the forest shielding the Washita River, a muddy brown ribbon flowing along the southern edge of the farm. The nearest town, Maysville, has a population of 1,087."

Mark Olalde reports for ProPublica, and Nick Bowlin for Capital & Main, May 6, 2024.

Source: ProPublica/Capital & Main, 05/07/2024