DOI: Biden-Harris Administration Announces $64 Million to Address Legacy Pollution on Federal Lands and Waters, Create Good-Paying Jobs Through Investing in America Agenda

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Executive Summary:

  • The Department of the Interior announced a $63.8 million investment to plug and remediate orphaned oil and gas well sites located in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters.
  • This funding is part of President Biden’s $16 billion Investing in America initiative aimed at addressing legacy pollution, creating jobs, and reducing methane leaks.
  • Secretary Deb Haaland highlighted the initiative as a means to protect health and well-being while promoting sustainable stewardship of the nation’s lands and waters.
  • The funding nearly doubles the initial investment in reclamation efforts and is part of a total of $250 million allocated to clean up orphaned well sites.
  • Last year, $560 million was granted to states to address similar issues on state and private lands.

Unedited Press Release Text:

Funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will clean up over 300 orphaned oil and gas well sites nationwide

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today 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.

FY23 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funded Federal Orphaned Well Projects by State:

State Location  # Wells 
Alaska BLM Alaska State Office 
Arizona BLM Arizona State Office 
Colorado BLM Colorado State Office  
Kentucky Big South Fork National Recreation Area (KY) 1  
 USFS Daniel Boone National Forest* 130 
Louisiana Red River National Wildlife Refuge 6  
 Tensas National Wildlife Refuge 
Montana BLM Montana State Office 
Ohio Wayne National Forest* 29 
Oklahoma Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge 45 
Pennsylvania Allegheny National Forest* 48 
Tennessee Big South Fork National Recreation Area (TN) 
Texas Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge ** 
 Aransas National Wildlife Refuge ** 
 McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge ** 
 Big Thicket National Preserve 
 Lake Meredith National Recreation Area 
Utah Canyonlands National Park 
West Virginia Monongahela National Forest ** 
 Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge 
Wyoming BLM Wyoming State Office 12 
Combined Multi-State Funding FWS Inventory (LA, OK) ** 
 NPS Inventory (AZ, CO, FL, KS, KY, LA, MI, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, OH, OK, TN, TX, UT, WY) ** 
Outer Continental Shelf BSEE Matagorda Island Area ** 

*Includes both well-plugging projects and projects consisting of only post-plugging activities (e.g., reclamation, remediation, equipment removal, inventory)

**Projects consist of only pre-plugging or post-plugging activities (e.g., access, diagnostics, inventory, reclamation, remediation, equipment removal)



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