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Historic Funding to Plug Orphaned Oil & Gas Wells

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Interior Department Announces Nearly $5 Million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to Clean Up Legacy Pollution in Missouri

Historic funding to plug orphaned oil and gas wells will address environmental and safety hazards, create good-paying jobs in communities across Missouri.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today awarded nearly $5 million through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for Missouri to clean up legacy pollution. Today’s award will help Missouri assess nearly 5,000 documented orphaned oil and gas wells — including those with high methane emissions — and prioritize them for future plugging and remediation.

These unprecedented resources to clean up hazardous polluted 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.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is helping remedy long-standing environmental injustices by plugging and remediating orphaned oil and gas wells throughout the country,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “With today’s announcement, half of all U.S. states have received funding from the Biden-Harris administration to clean up legacy pollution, marking a significant milestone in our country’s efforts to restore the lands, waters, and communities scarred by past oil and gas extraction.”

Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Today’s initial grant is the 25th awarded to states by the Department from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In August 2022, the Department awarded $560 million in initial grant funds to 24 states. Missouri is also eligible to receive nearly $27 million in formula grant funds and has indicated an intention to use those resources to plug thousands of wells once they have been assessed and prioritized with initial grant funds.

Last January, Secretary Haaland established the Orphaned Well Program Office to ensure effective, accountable and efficient implementation of these historic investments. Since August 2022, states have plugged nearly 6,000 wells and reduced approximately 11,530 metric tons of potential methane emissions. Across the country, investments through the new program are estimated to have supported 7,213 jobs and contributed over $900 million over the last two fiscal years.

The funding for states is in addition to close to $40 million announced for Tribal communities in September 2023 and nearly $100 million in funding that is going towards addressing orphaned wells on public lands and waters.

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Interior.


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