Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the Department of the Interior’s announcement of an interagency initiative to implement a new federal program for addressing orphaned oil and gas wells. This critical program, made possible by Chairman Manchin’s recently enacted, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will simultaneously reduce methane emissions, clean up the environment, and help reinvigorate communities across the country impacted by abandoned oil and gas wells.
“Today’s announcement from the Department of the Interior is fantastic news for West Virginia. With authority and funding provided by my bipartisan infrastructure law, the Department will issue grants to states to plug orphaned oil and gas wells, ensuring communities across the Mountain State are given new opportunities to rebuild and thrive while keeping our rivers, lakes, and public lands healthy for our children and grandchildren. I look forward to seeing the impact of this new initiative and to working with the Administration to ensure the wild and wonderful corners of West Virginia are protected for generations to come,” said Chairman Manchin.
The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided $4.7 billion to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells via grants to the States and new federal programs. In West Virginia, these grants will help the State’s Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that state and local priorities are addressed, while employing local oil and gas workers. Millions of Americans live within a mile of hundreds of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells and there are at least 4,646 documented orphan wells in West Virginia alone that will be eligible for funding under this newly announced initiative. These wells jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, seeping toxic chemicals, emitting harmful pollutants including methane, and harming wildlife. In addition to creating good-paying jobs addressing this pollution, these investments create safer and more inhabitable communities and drive new economic opportunities.