Biden-Harris administration announces $33 million investment in infrastructure to tackle legacy pollution and boost well-paying jobs on public lands

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today announced a $33 million investment through President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act to put people to work plugging, cleaning up, and recovering oil and gas wells. orphan gases in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and on other public lands. Four offices within the Ministries of Interior and Agriculture will deal with 277 high-priority polluting sinks that threaten human health and safety, the climate and wildlife.

“I have seen with my own eyes how orphan oil and gas wells left behind by extractive industries lead to dangerous pollution, water contamination and safety risks for our communities,” said Home Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, we are making the largest legacy pollution control investment in American history and taking a whole-of-government approach to addressing the environmental impacts of these legacy developments while creating high-paying jobs in the states of the country. ”

“Millions of Americans live within a mile of hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells. These wells endanger public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, leaching toxic chemicals, by emitting harmful pollutants, including methane, and harming wildlife,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis. “We are grateful that the investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act will allow the federal government to do our part to address this legacy pollution.”

Today’s allocation is part of a total of $250 million provided through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to clean up orphan wells and well sites on federal public lands, national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests. Funding will be distributed to four agencies for work in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Agencies are expected to immediately begin the process of acquiring patching and remediation services through contracts and grants.

Agencies receiving funding will measure methane emissions before and after plugging using a methane measurement protocol developed by the Multi-Agency Technical Working Group. The Department of the Interior is also working on developing a database to collect information when wells are clogged and to capture those measurements for future congressional reporting. The agencies have also prioritized sinks that impact disadvantaged communities, consistent with the administration’s Justice40 initiative to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.

See below for a list of funded projects planned for this year:

State Location # of wells
California Channel Islands National Park 2
Bakersfield Field Office BLM Lands 8
Kentucky Daniel Boone National Forest 24
Louisiana Atchafalaya National Wildlife Reserve 9
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge 6
Darbonne National Wildlife Reserve 68
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park ten
Lacassine National Wildlife Reserve 11
Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Reserve 59
Ohio Cuyahoga Valley National Park 3
Oklahoma Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge 24
Pennsylvania Allegheny National Forest 18
Texas Angelina National Forest 9
Big Thicket National Reserve 7
Guadalupe Mountains National Park 2
Sabine National Forest 2
Utah Glen Canyon National Recreation Area *
Moab Field Office BLM Lands 14
West Virginia Gauley River National Recreation Area 1

*Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is funded for an inventory and assessment of wells in the park.

The allocation follows the Department of the Interior’s announcement of $775 million in state grant funding earlier this year to address orphan oil and gas wells on public and private lands in the United States. during the year 22; an investment that will create jobs by plugging wells and spur future job growth through new economic development opportunities at the rehabilitated sites.

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