A new report by a group of independent researchers concludes that most of Alberta's energy wells no longer hold enough oil and gas to pay for their cleanup.
The report by the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project recommends a public agency be formed to step in to operate those wells and use the revenues to fund reclamation.
Lead author Regan Boychuk says the report uses information from the Alberta Energy Regulator to calculate the province's total cleanup bill for old oil and gas wells at $40-$70 billion.
He says through subsidies such government grants, unpaid municipal taxes and outstanding bills to landowners, Canadians are paying the industry about $4.3 million a day to clean up its sites.
He says that violates the polluter pays principle in Canadian law.
Boychuk says a public agency taking over wells in the last stages of production is Alberta's last chance to get the industry to fund its own cleanup.
He says that money could create up to 10,000 jobs in remediation, many in rural Alberta.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021.
The Canadian Press