West Texas rancher worried about livelihood as well blowouts increase

Schuyler Wight's ranch is facing its greatest threat since the Dust Bowl.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 7:13 AM CST

PECOS COUNTY, Texas (KOSA) - Well blowouts have become a common sight on Schuyler Wight’s land near the Pecos County and Crane County border, which he uses for ranching.

“I’m a fourth-generation rancher,” Wight said.” I’ve been ranching all my life.”

But in recent years, he’s devoted less time to ranching and more time to solving problems related to oil and gas.

“These wells are getting older, they’re getting deteriorated, they’re rusting,” Wight said. “It’s going to happen just because they’re so old.”

The exponential increase in blowouts and the contaminated water that’s leaking to the surface (as well as staying below) has Wight worried his cattle business could find itself in trouble.

“I can’t afford it,” Wight said. “That’s how I make my living. If I sell my cattle, I can’t make a living. I just have to do the best I can and make sure they don’t get out here and drink this nasty crap.”

On Monday, Wight sat at the site of a major plugging operation that he says has cost the RRC over $1 million to plug, destroyed nearly 40 acres, and created a temporary hole that would make a Red Bull cliff diver proud.

“You know, when there’s a mess like this, it just upsets you,” Wight said. “It’s really painful to watch.”

He’s spoken to the Texas legislature about the problem numerous times, but any real long-term solution for Wight or other West Texas ranchers still seems far away.

“They need to get on these well and get them plugged before this gets worse,” Wight said.

Wight says he 100% supports the oil and gas industry and even brought up how the industry helped the ranch survive the Dust Bowl nearly 100 years ago. He wants the RRC to plug wells at a greater rate to put a dent in the state’s increasing orphaned well population to help ranchers and residents like himself.