Biden-Harris Administration Announces Additional $127 Million from the Investing in America Agenda to Clean Up Legacy Pollution Across Five States

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

Last edited 06/26/2024

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today awarded $126.7 million through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, New York and Ohio to address legacy pollution.   

Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Many of these wells pose serious health and safety threats to the air we breathe and water we drink by contaminating surface and groundwater, releasing toxic air pollutants, and leaking methane – a “super pollutant” that is a significant cause of climate change and many times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Plugging orphaned wells supports broader Biden-Harris administration efforts under the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.  

With this funding, the five states will collectively plug nearly 600 wells and inventory additional undocumented orphaned wells in preparation for future plugging activities. These investments to address hazardous sites will help create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, help protect public health and the environment from harmful methane leaks, and advance environmental justice.  

“Toxic orphaned oil and gas wells have plagued American communities for generations. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is empowering states and Tribes across the country to address this long-standing environmental injustice by making a historic investment to plug these wells, which will create jobs and revitalize local economies,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Millions of Americans live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. With this historic funding, we are empowering the states of Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, New York and Ohio to begin to turn the tide on these environmental hazards that are harming our communities, lands, waters and air.”  

Today’s awards are part of $660 million in formula grant funding from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law being released on a rolling basis. As part of these awards, states will detect and measure methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells and seek to prioritize cleaning up wells near overburdened and disadvantaged communities. These efforts advance the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which sets a goal to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.  

The five states are receiving the following amounts: 

 State                                                                        Award                                                     
 Ohio   $57.75 million 
 Alaska   $25 million
 New York         $25 million 
 Indiana   $14.08 million 
 Arizona   $4.87 million 

Through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department is delivering the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including $4.7 billion to plug orphaned wells. This includes grants to states in three categories: initial grants, formula grants, and performance grants. Since August 2022, the Department has awarded $565 million in initial grant funding to 25 states, including $25 million to each of these five states so they could begin work inventorying, plugging and cleaning up orphaned wells. 

With initial grant funding, as of March 31, these five states have plugged over 340 wells, inventoried orphaned wells, and conducted community outreach and well characterization. Today’s announcement of $127 million in formula grant funding will help these states continue the momentum started in 2022.  

As demonstrated by the Department's recently released StoryMap, plugging is underway across the country, and since the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states have plugged more than 7,700 orphaned wells and reduced approximately 11,530 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Nationwide, investments through the Department’s new program are estimated to have supported over 7,200 jobs and contributed more than $900 million over the last two fiscal years. 

In addition to the $775 million available through initial grants and $2 billion available through multiple phases of formula grants, states are also eligible for $1.5 billion in performance grants under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Final state matching grant guidance, one of two categories of performance grants, was recently released, and states can now apply to access these additional funds.  


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