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State to Take Over Management of 21 Oil Wells, Secures $2.8 Million Settlement with Fisher McCall
August 10, 2023
LANSING – The State of Michigan will take over 21 nonproducing oil wells in Ottawa and Ingham Counties and was awarded $2,852,095 in civil fines, past and future site remediation costs, and costs of properly plugging the wells in a settlement with Fisher McCall Oil & Gas, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Fisher McCall failed to properly plug the 21 wells and clean up the well sites as required by law for any well that has failed to produce oil over 12 months, which lead to oil releases at two well sites including one into a lake in Ottawa County’s Bend Park.
Attorney General Nessel sued Fisher McCall on behalf of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in 2022 for its failure to secure the wells under the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Following mediation both parties agreed to the settlement that will see Fisher McCall turn over its wells and permits to EGLE and be liable for the following sums:
- $2.1 million to plug the 21 wells;
- $400,000 to remediate the wells and associated facilities;
- $102,095 to reimburse EGLE for prior oil leak response costs;
- $250,000 in civil fines to the state; and
- $51,627 in the form of forfeiture of a bond filed with EGLE.
“This settlement takes these oil wells under state control for proper and responsible remediation and protects the health and safety of Michigan’s residents and natural resources,” said Nessel. “Through this settlement the state of Michigan is able to clean up and secure these sites while keeping the financial burden on the corporation that failed to properly maintain them. My department will continue to safeguard Michigan’s residents, communities, and natural resources from the threat of environmental contamination.”
The settlement was reached by a consent judgment issued in the 20th Circuit Court by Judge Jon A. Van Allsburg on August 4th. Per the consent judgment Fisher McCall disavows any interest and ownership it held in any and all oil and gas production equipment, structures, machinery, and fixtures or other items of value at the well sites, which EGLE may seize in furtherance of collection of the settlement sums. 20 of the 21 well sites are in Ottawa County, in the townships of Georgetown and Tallmadge, with 1 site in White Oak township in Ingham County.
“Michigan’s natural resources belong to all of us, and those who profit from them have a legal obligation to ensure their activities leave no long-term hazards,” said Phil Roos, EGLE Director. “In this case those obligations were not fulfilled. This settlement sends a message that Michigan will aggressively pursue irresponsible parties when they fall short of their responsibility to protect Michiganders’ natural assets.”
In its lawsuit EGLE contended the “oil wells and facilities present a hazard to the health and safety of individuals and the environment in violation of” Michigan law and administrative rules. Ultimately the Court found that “this consent judgement is necessary to... alleviate pollution, impairment, and destruction of the natural resources of the State of Michigan.”