WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior announced today that it has awarded an initial $560 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphan oil and gas well. Eligible states have indicated that there are more than 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, with many more lined up for future action.
Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these uncapped wells is a serious safety hazard and a major cause of climate change, as it is more than 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act allows us to address long-standing environmental injustices by making a historic investment to plug orphan wells across the country,” he said. Secretary Deb Haaland. “At the Department of the Interior, we are working on multiple fronts to clean up these sites as quickly as possible by investing in efforts on federal lands and partnering with states and tribes to leave no community behind. Today’s announcement is an exciting step toward what we will accomplish together through this landmark Act.”
The announcement comes as Secretary Haaland, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, White House Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, and members of the Interagency Task Force on Communities of Coal and Power Plants and Economic Revitalization were in New Mexico highlights how historic investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Reduce Inflation Act will address legacy pollution and help energy communities transition through well-paying jobs and economic revitalization.
Plugging in orphan wells will help further the goals of the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, as well as the Interagency Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on stimulating economic revitalization in hard-hit energy communities.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act offers the largest investment to address legacy pollution in US history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphan wells. These legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and endanger public health and safety by polluting groundwater, emitting harmful gases and methane, littering the landscape with rusty and dangerous equipment, and harming wildlife.
From the initial state plans:
- 15 states will use seed grant funds to establish methane measurement capacity, while 6 states, including California, Mississippi and West Virginia, have committed to measuring methane before and immediately after remediation.
- 12 states, including Kansas, New Mexico and Ohio, have made plugging wells in disadvantaged communities a priority.
- Several states, including Arizona, Louisiana and Montana, will prioritize job creation and give preference to small businesses through their hiring process.
As of 2021, states have identified more than 129,000 orphan wells on state and private land, though this number will increase as Bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding becomes available for more log investigations, more field crews, improved techniques well location information and more surveys and site data. collection nationwide.
Today’s investment is part of a total $1.15 billion Phase One funding announced in January by the Department for states to plug and remediate orphan wells. States will receive additional formula funding dollars in the coming months. Additionally, an initial $33 million was recently appropriated to plug 277 wells on federal public lands. The Tribal Orphan Wells Grant Program is being informed by ongoing tribal consultations and listening sessions.
Of the states eligible for funding, 22 have been awarded $25 million each in initial state grants. Arkansas and Mississippi will each receive $5 million to support methane measurement and begin plugging wells.
The following list reflects the number of wells identified for plugging and remediation with Initial Grant Funding by each eligible state. The number of wells varies based on remoteness, depth of the well, site conditions, and previous activity at the well site, as well as other state considerations, such as the number of existing personnel and whether the state has well plug contracts pre-existing
|Condition||# of wells|
|Louisiana||250 – 900|
*Mississippi will create a comprehensive inventory of orphan wells statewide, purchase equipment needed to conduct field inspections, and develop contracts for methane measurement, contaminated media remediation, and well plugging.
**Wyoming plans to plug, remediate and recover as many documented orphan wells as possible, complete remedial or reclamation actions where such work was not completed after plugging, and locate and characterize undocumented orphan wells. Wyoming estimates that there could be up to 300 jobs created or saved using this program.
About the US Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information on natural resources and natural hazards to address social challenges and create opportunities for the American people. , and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indian, Alaska Native, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.