$660M for Cleaning Up Legacy Pollution

Monday, July 10, 2023

Executive Summary:

  • Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announces nearly $660 million in grant funding for cleaning up legacy pollution.
  • Funding to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, reduce harmful methane leaks, and mitigate environmental and public health risks to surface and groundwater resources.
  • Kansas, one of the 26 eligible states, received an initial $25 million and is now eligible for an additional $25 million.
  • The funding aims to plug orphaned oil and gas wells, which contribute significantly to climate change and pose safety hazards.
  • Funding comes as part of a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned wells, and is part of the $2 billion in formula grants to be distributed over the coming years.
  • States must measure methane emissions from plugged wells, screen for groundwater and surface water impacts, and consider polluting wells near marginalized communities.
  • This announcement supplements $560 million in initial orphaned well grant funding provided in August 2022, which enabled states to plug and remediate over 2,800 wells.
  • The 26 eligible states can apply for a Phase 1 formula grant until December 31, 2023.

Unedited Press Release Text:

Biden-Harris Administration Invests $660 Million for States to Plug Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells through President’s Investing in America Agenda

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will address legacy pollution, spur economic growth nationwide

OLATHE, Kan. – Following a community roundtable discussion and site visits with Rep. Sharice Davids today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the availability of nearly $660 million in grant funding to clean up legacy pollution through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. These historic resources to clean up hazardous sites will create good-paying jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, reduce harmful methane leaks – which is one of the major drivers of the climate crisis – and reduce environmental and public health risks to surface water and groundwater resources critical to U.S. communities and ecosystems.

Kansas is one of 26 states that are eligible to apply for this funding. The state received $25 million in initial funding, with which the Kansas Corporation Commission is plugging more than 2,000 abandoned wells over the next three years. With today’s announcement, Kansas is eligible for another $25 million.

“Bidenomics and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are enabling us to confront long-standing environmental injustices by making a historic investment to plug orphaned wells throughout the country,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “These investments are good for our climate, for the health of our communities, and for American workers. With this additional funding, states will put more people to work to clean up these toxic sites, reduce methane emissions and safeguard our environment.”

Millions of Americans live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. Orphaned wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, farmland, and public spaces in urban, rural and suburban areas. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned wells. The $660 million being announced today comes from the $2 billion in formula grants to be provided to states over the coming years.

Plugging orphaned wells advances the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Methane Action Plan, as well as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on spurring economic revitalization in hard-hit energy communities. The program is also part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is advancing environmental justice by ensuring that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments reach disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.

The  grant application guidance released today is a product of robust engagement with state partners and public stakeholders and reflects feedback provided on draft guidance that was released on January 30. The guidance encourages states to use project labor agreements and a unionized project workforce for the plugging, remediation and reclamation of wells, and requires states to:

  • Measure methane emissions from orphaned wells plugged with formula grants.
  • Screen for groundwater and surface water impacts caused by orphaned wells.
  • Factor into their prioritization methods polluting wells nearby communities of color, low-income communities, and Tribal and Indigenous communities.

The funding announced today is in addition to $560 million in initial orphaned well grant funding that was provided in August 2022, which has allowed states to plug and remediate over 2,800 wells on state and private lands so far. Based on the formula announced in January 2022, states are eligible to apply for the below allocations.

The 26 states eligible to apply for a Phase 1 formula grant have from today until December 31, 2023, to submit their applications, which must be done through the GrantSolutions website. Additional phases of funding will be available in the future.

Total and Phase 1 State Formula Grant Eligibility

 State  Total Formula  Grant Eligibility  Phase 1 Eligibility 
 Alabama  $1,681,430  $1,681,430 
 Alaska  $28,336,497  $25,000,000 
 Arizona  $4,871,791  $4,871,791 
 Arkansas  $5,589,721  $5,589,721 
 California  $140,870,510  $35,217,628 
 Colorado  $54,064,506  $25,000,000 
 Illinois  $36,875,485  $25,000,000 
 Indiana  $14,076,668  $14,076,668 
 Kansas  $33,666,697  $25,000,000 
 Kentucky  $78,980,737  $25,000,000 
 Louisiana  $86,449,520  $25,000,000 
 Michigan  $5,873,295  $5,873,295 
 Mississippi  $6,830,345  $6,830,345 
 Missouri  $26,925,384  $25,000,000 
 Montana  $5,139,423  $5,139,423 
 Nebraska  $4,151,076  $4,151,076 
 New Mexico  $72,260,163  $25,000,000 
 New York  $44,672,162  $25,000,000 
 North Dakota  $55,266,234  $25,000,000 
 Ohio  $231,028,206  $57,757,052 
 Oklahoma  $205,226,972  $51,306,743 
 Pennsylvania  $305,625,896  $76,406,474 
 Texas  $318,695,029  $79,673,757 
 Utah  $5,229,389  $5,229,389 
 West Virginia  $116,932,226  $29,233,057 
 Wyoming  $40,680,639  $25,000,000 
 Total  $1,930,000,000  $658,037,849 

In addition to formula grants, states are also eligible for performance grants under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Information on and guidance for these applications will be made available later this year. 


SOURCE: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/biden-harris-administration-invests-660-million-states-plug-orphaned-oil-and-gas-wells

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