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.