Oklahoma to begin work connecting nearly 1,200 orphan wells thanks to President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law – Okemah News Leader
Date: Thursday, August 25, 2022
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WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior announced today that Oklahoma received an initial grant of $25 million from President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act to begin work on plugging, capping and salvaging wells of orphan oil and gas across the state.
The State of Oklahoma has indicated that it will use this funding to plug 1,196 documented orphan wells, prioritizing wells that pose the greatest threat to human health and safety, the environment, and personal property. State oil and gas regulators intend to work with other state agencies to identify and address areas in overburdened communities that need to be restored. Additionally, Oklahoma will work with federally recognized tribes to plug wells within their historic boundaries.
Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphan oil and gas well, which is polluting backyards, recreation areas and community spaces across the country. The methane escaping from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Historic investments to clean up these dangerous sites will create well-paying, unionized jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce dangerous methane leaks.
“President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act allows us to address long-standing environmental injustices by making a historic investment to cap orphan wells across the country,” 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 towards what we will accomplish together with this historic law.
Plugging orphan wells will help advance the goals of the U.S. Action Plan to Reduce Methane Emissions, as well as the Interagency Task Force on Coal and Power Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on stimulating economic revitalization in hard-hit energy communities.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Act offers the biggest investment in legacy pollution control in American history, including a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphan wells. These former pollution sites pose environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting harmful gases and methane, littering the landscape with rusty and dangerous equipment, and harming wildlife. .
Today’s investment is part of a $1.15 billion overall funding for fiscal year 2022 announced in January by the Department for states to plug and correct orphan wells. States will receive additional formula funding dollars in the coming months. In addition, an initial $33 million was recently allocated to plug 277 wells on federal public lands. The Tribal Orphan Well Grant Program is informed by ongoing tribal consultations and listening sessions.