Paula Noonan's article on "orphan wells" is misinformed ("NOONAN | Let extractive industries pick up more of the tab for the messes they make." Feb. 7).

The bond amounts she cites are just the start. Operators must supplement the base amount to account for "excess inactive wells." For example, my company, HighPoint Resources, has over $1 million on deposit with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Second, there is a back-up fund for truly orphan wells — the "environmental response fund," made up from the COGCC mill levy on operators. That fund was augmented in last year's session and carries a balance in excess of $5 million.

Finally, the reduction in severance taxes derives not primarily from "netback" cost reductions but from the ad valorem tax credit. Industry pays the bulk of its production tax — by design — at the local level where the impacts occur.

Ken Wonstolen

Senior vice president & general counsel

HighPoint Resources


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