Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis Highlights Progress Through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to Address Legacy Pollution, Advance Drought Resilience in California

Last edited 03/12/2024

Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2024

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior Laura Daniel-Davis today toured several projects in Southern California funded through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda that will address legacy pollution and advance drought resilience.  

Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis visited two sites where $25 million in initial grant funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is being used to cap and reclaim methane-leaking orphaned oil and gas wells. These 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. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned wells—the majority of which will go directly to states to implement these efforts. 

Members of the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division briefed the Acting Deputy Secretary on work underway across the state to clean up these hazards and build healthier communities and environments. The state’s initial state grant is expected to plug 171 wells in Santa Barbara County.  

Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis also visited the Goleta Water District, where a $2 million investment through the Bureau of Reclamation from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supporting work to drill a new groundwater well, which will provide 1,100 acre-feet of water per year, or 800 gallons a minute, to the region. During droughts or other times when surface water supplies are limited or unavailable, groundwater becomes the Water District's primary source of supply to meet demand. The additional water production from the new well will significantly increase the reliability and availability of a local supply source and advance climate and drought resilience for nearby communities. Funding for the project comes from an overall $84 million announced in 2022 for 36 drought resilience projects throughout the West to help communities prepare and respond to the challenges of drought.  

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda represents the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and is providing much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including rural water, water storage, conservation and conveyance, nature-based solutions, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination. Since the Law was signed, Reclamation has selected 425 projects to receive over $2.9 billion.


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