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Biden is sending over $1 billion to states to plug abandoned oil and gas wells

Biden is setting aside $1 billion to plug abandoned oil and gas wells

February 2, 2022: On Monday, the Biden administration announced it would send $1.15 billion to states to plug thousands of orphan oil and gas wells that emit methane, a potent climate-changing greenhouse gas.

Methane is a central component of natural gas and accounts for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and gas industry represents nearly 30% of the methane emissions of the country.

Methane is 84 times potent than carbon. It doesn’t remain as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down, making it a significant target for reducing global warming quickly while working to decrease other greenhouse gases.

The funding to plug oil and gas wells came from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, allocating a total of $4.7 billion to form a new federal program to address the thousands of wells abandoned all over the country.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said that the funding enables the government to “confront the legacy pollution and long-standing environmental injustices that for that long have plagued underrepresented communities.”

“We must act with urgency to address the over one hundred thousand documented orphaned wells all over the country and leave no community behind,” Haaland said. “This is good for our climate, for the health of our communities, and American workers,” Haaland added.

The money will go to 26 states that submitted notices of intent to the Department of Interior in the previous year, including more than $100 million each for Pennsylvania and Texas. Almost 9 million people live within a mile of an abandoned oil and gas. Well, few of which emit harmful gases that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color in the U.S.

“Addressing these which exist wells is an important first step,” said Mahyar Sorour, deputy legislative director for the Sierra Club. “But unless it’s paired with bonding reform that requires oil and gas companies to cover these costs upfront, the industry will keep to leave behind toxic wells on our public lands and expect taxpayers to cover the cost of cleaning them up.”

“We welcome the administration’s efforts to address orphaned wells,” said Bethany Williams, a spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s huge trade group. API released a new industry standard to address the closure and remediation of wells in the previous year.

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