Historic $4.7 billion investment will plug orphaned oil and gas wells across the country
Date: Friday, January 20, 2023
Baton Rouge, Louisiana — Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Winnie Stachelberg kicked off a tour this week to highlight investments made by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug orphaned oil and gas wells throughout the country.
Stachelberg and Director of the Department’s Orphaned Well Program Office Kimbra Davis joined officials from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and other state and local partners to view well sites in Tullos, Louisiana, which are some of the first to be plugged in the state with Infrastructure Law funding. Louisiana has received an initial $25 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug wells on state and private land. Additional funding has been allocated to address 163 well sites on Louisiana public lands, in Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Darbonne National Wildlife Refuge, Jean Lafitte National Historic Park, Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge.
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.
While in Louisiana, Stachelberg joined the Louisiana Resilient Infrastructure Workshop and hosted a roundtable discussion to convene labor representatives, state and local officials, and well-plugging contractors.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned wells. These legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting noxious gases and methane, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment, and harming wildlife.
In the first year of implementing the Law, the Department has allocated $560 million in initial grants to states, expected to plug over 10,000 wells on state and private lands. An additional $33 million was allocated to address 277 well sites in national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and on other public lands. Guidance, informed by Tribal consultations and listening sessions, has also been shared to direct Tribes on how to apply for the first $50 million in funding to address orphaned wells on Tribal lands.