The Department of the Interior announced a $63.8 million investment through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to put people to work plugging and remediating orphaned oil and gas well sites located in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and on other public lands and waters. Methane pollution from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant driver of climate change, with methane being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
This year’s funding to five federal bureaus at the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture is part of an overall historic $16 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address legacy pollution across the nation that will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, improve public safety, and reduce harmful methane leaks.
“Decades of drilling have left behind thousands of non-producing wells that now threaten the health and wellbeing of our communities, our lands, and our waters,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are investing in the nation’s future by addressing legacy pollution on public lands. This funding will put Americans to work in good-paying jobs, while also fueling collaboration across a broad coalition of stakeholders and engaging communities to work toward sustainable stewardship of the nation’s treasured lands and waters.”
Today's allocation is part of a total of $250 million provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up orphaned well sites on federal public lands. This year’s funding nearly doubles the investment in reclamation efforts during the program’s first year, expanding existing projects and undertaking new initiatives from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle.
In addition to these projects led by federal bureaus, $560 million in initial grants was awarded to states last year to address orphaned oil and gas wells on state and private lands as part of this historic economic and environmental investment.