Secretary Haaland Visits Colorado to Highlight Work Underway Through President’s Investing in America Agenda to Create Jobs, Address Legacy Pollution

Last edited 09/27/2023

Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


DENVER — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was in Colorado this week to highlight how investments being made through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are putting people to work to plug, reclaim and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells, and reduce the risk of wildland fire.

Secretary Haaland joined Governor Jared Polis and other state and local officials to visit two orphaned oil and gas well sites in Brighton that will benefit from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. The historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks. Colorado received $25 million in initial grant funding from the Department through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address orphaned oil and gas wells on state and private land. Under another outstanding funding opportunity released in July, the state is eligible to apply for a formula grant of up to $25 million later this year.

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, 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. 

Secretary Haaland also visited Rocky Mountain National Park, where she toured several projects funded by the Great America Outdoors Act to improve recreational access for park visitors. The park is receiving nearly $20 million from the Act to rehabilitate water, wastewater and electrical distribution systems and improve accessibility, address fire risk, and modernize the Moraine Park Campground. This project will also relocate electric powerlines in the campground underground to reduce system damage caused by snow, wind, falling tree branches, electrical hazards or wildfire and will add electrical hook-ups to approximately 25% of the campsites. 

The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in recreation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools. GAOA’s LRF funding sunsets after fiscal year 2025 and would need to be reauthorized by Congress to continue the efforts underway to address significant infrastructure needs across public lands.

Investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are also supporting fuel treatment projects, including at within the park at Deer Mountain, to further reduce the risk of catastropic fires fueled by climate change. This funding is part of an overall $1.5 million investment the Department is making to invest in preparedness, fuels management, post-fire restoration and fire science.


Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment