US DEPT. of INTERIOR ~ $ 1.5 Billion for Plugging Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells

by Duane Nichols on June 3, 2022

Secretary of the Interior working with States & public lands

Interior Department approves $1B to clean up abandoned wells ~ What does that say about the industry?

From an Article by Drew Costley, Associated Press, February 1, 2022

The Department of Interior is spending $1.15 billion to cap abandoned oil and gas wells across the United States. There are over 3 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And Interior officials say that wells have been exposing millions of people to air and water pollution for decades.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement that the funding will help the country “confront the legacy pollution and long-standing environmental injustices that for too long have plagued underrepresented communities.” Much of the funding is focused on plugging wells in communities of color and in rural and tribal communities.

The funds are coming from $4.7 billion set aside from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to create a federal program to clean up wells. Officials hope the well cleanup effort also will create jobs and help stimulate economic growth.

“We’re particularly excited about these investments because they will be job creators,” said Winnie Stachelberg, infrastructure coordinator at Interior. “In addition to creating immediate jobs addressing the pollution, these investments will build a foundation for future job growth once sites are cleaned up.”

Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma and California — states an Associated Press examination found have among the most abandoned wells — are eligible to get the largest shares of funding from the $1.15 billion.

States will have to apply for funding set aside for well cleanup. The Interior Department said nearly every state with documented abandoned wells expressed interest in applying.

Abandoned wells are a growing problem around the U.S. as oil and gas companies leave them behind and communities shift away from fossil fuel production. About two-thirds of the millions of the abandoned wells haven’t been plugged, and many are releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In California, which has 4,844 documented abandoned wells, there is a statewide push to shift away from fossil fuel production. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged to phase out oil and gas drilling in the state completely by 2045. Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban new oil and gas drilling and phase out hundreds of existing wells.

Decades of well abandonment in states such as California, Texas and Pennsylvania — along with industry and government plans to shut down more wells — have left communities around the country scrambling to figure out how to clean up well sites.


US Interior Secretary Haaland tests positive for COVID-19 – Associated Press, June 2, 2022

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms, the agency said Wednesday. Haaland, 61, is isolating in Nevada where she took part in a roundtable discussion Tuesday in Las Vegas about clean energy production on public lands, the Interior Department said in a statement.

Haaland began experiencing coronavirus symptoms on Wednesday and tested positive. She is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots. The statement said she expects to recover quickly. She has canceled travel plans elsewhere in the U.S. West and is working remotely.

Haaland last tested negative on Monday during a visit to the White House and was not in close contact with President Joe Biden. Other people who might have been in close contact with Haaland during her travels are being notified.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary Wildfire June 4, 2022 at 8:54 am

What’s WRONG with this picture? Sure it’s great that a fraction of the abandoned wells will be plugged and jobs will be created. But will government ever recognize that it’s wrong to allow companies to make a profit in polluting, extraction, and leaving the cleanup costs to taxpayers?

It is estimated that Alberta will have at least $50 billion in costs to try to deal with the horrific toxic mess left by tar sands mining; there isn’t even a plan to deal with nuclear waste; and the oil and gas companies are allowed to put up a small fraction of the actual costs of plugging their wells, prioritize drilling as long as it’s profitable, then declare bankruptcy and leave us to clean up the mess, or suffer the pollution for decades (millennia in the case of nuclear waste).

Why don’t the regulatory agencies make them set aside enough funds for cleanup before allowing permits? I’ll tell you why–because if they had to pay the full costs, none of this would be profitable, and politicians want the jobs, and the kickbacks, and the prosperity founded on fossil fuels.

The economy can’t actually afford to continue–this is essentially kicking the can down the road, postponing the reckoning, leaving our children to deal with the pollution, the toxic sites, the ravaged climate and ecosystems…without much if any electricity, transportation beyond horses, without a modern economy. Which likely means most of these sites will never be cleaned up–yet new ones are still being permitted, and none of these politicians is even talking about demanding cleanup costs be set aside.

We are robbing our children, ever more brutally.


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