Orphaned Wells

Millions of Americans across the country live within just one mile from an abandoned coal mine or an orphaned oil and gas well. These legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting noxious gases like methane, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment, creating flooding and sinkhole risks, and harming wildlife. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history.  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directed the Secretary of the Interior to establish programs to inventory and properly close orphaned wells. The Law provides $4.7 billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation and restoration activities on federal, Tribal, state and private lands. This historic investment will reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from orphaned wells, help clean up water contamination, restore native habitat, create good-paying union jobs and benefit disproportionately impacted communities.  

Program implementation is guided by the Department’s Orphaned Wells Program Office, created by Secretary Deb Haaland through Secretary’s Order 3409.  

ArcGIS StoryMaps

To learn more about orphaned oil and gas wells, including their environmental impacts and what is being done to clean up these hazardous sites, please visit https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/92cf4a914be240bb9d72b2351b8d9960.

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  • Orphaned well pumpjack in desert landscape.
    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $150 million for Tribal well plugging, remediation and restoration.

    Tribal Orphaned Wells Program

  • A view of laborers working to plug an orphaned oil and gas well
    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law creates three types of grants for the state program including Initial Grants, Formula Grants and Performance Grants. 

    State Orphaned Wells Program

  • Chain-link fence surrounding oil equipment.
    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $250 million to federal land managers at the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to inventory, assess, plug and restore orphaned well sites.

    Federal Orphaned Wells Program

  • An orphan well surrounded by trees and ferns
    News and announcements related to the Orphaned Wells Program Office.

    News and Announcements