DOI Invests $33MM Putting People to Work in Orphaned Well Program
The Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced a $33 million investment through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to put people to work plugging, remediating and reclaiming orphaned oil and gas wells in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and on other public lands.
The allocation is part of a total of $250 million provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for cleaning up orphaned wells and well sites on federal public lands, national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests, the DOI highlighted. Funding will be distributed to four agencies for work in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. These agencies are expected to immediately begin the process to acquire plugging and reclamation services through contracts and grants.
The DOI noted that 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 DOI also revealed that it is working on developing a database to collect information as wells are plugged and to capture these measurements for future Congressional reporting.
“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are making the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history and taking an all-of-government approach to addressing the environmental impacts from these legacy developments while creating good paying jobs in states across the country,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a DOI statement.
Back in April, the DOI released final guidance to states on how to apply for the first $775 million in initial grant funding available this year for plugging orphaned oil and gas wells under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides a total of $4.7 billion to clean up these wells, create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and shut down sources of harmful methane emissions, the DOI highlighted in a statement at the time.
In January, the DOI announced an interagency initiative to implement a new federal program for addressing orphaned wells. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, established a framework to implement the orphaned well program and committed the signing parties to leverage their capabilities, resources, and expertise in support of the initiative, the DOI revealed at the time.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal was passed by Congress on November 5, 2021. In an organization statement at the time, the DOI noted that the deal “makes historic investments to plug orphan wells and reclaim abandoned mine lands”.
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