Infrastructure plan: $33M to clean up hundreds of oil wells

Infrastructure plan: $33M to clean up hundreds of oil wells


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — About $33 million of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan recently signed into law by President Joe Biden will go toward cleanning up 277 of an estimated 15,000 abandoned oil and gas wells on federal land, the nation's interior secretary said Wednesday.

“Millions of Americans live within one mile of an abandoned oil or gas well,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said, adding during a news conference that the wells pose a danger to people, “particularly in communities of color and rural communities.”

“With tens of thousands of known orphaned wells across the country there is a significant amount of work to be done,” so the program will provide many jobs that pay well, Haaland said.

There are an estimated 15,000 abandoned wells on federal land — and states have indicated that they would need more than $8 billion to clean up 130,000 other orphaned wells, said Laura Daniel-Davis, principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals.

Daniel-Davis said money to help “nail down” state inventories is included in $1.1 billion announced in January as available to states under the infrastructure law.

“This is the first installment” of $250 million provided through the infrastructure law for cleaning up orphaned wells and well sites on federal public lands, national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests, Daniel-Davis said. The next will probably be announced during the fiscal year which starts Oct. 1, she said.

Including wells on federal land, the bill will provide $4.7 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells, said Mitch Landrieu, Biden's infrastructure coordinator.

“States are now finally counting them,” he said.

Wells covered by Wednesday's announcement are considered high-priority because pollution threatens human health...

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