In Addition to Capping 710 Leaking Wells, Funds will Create Good-Paying Jobs and Prioritize Environmental Justice
Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed news that Colorado will receive an initial $25 million in grant funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to create jobs cleaning up orphaned oil and gas wells across the state. The funds were announced by the Department of the Interior and are a part of a new $4.7 billion federal program created by the infrastructure bill. In total, Colorado will receive at least $79 million in grants and formula funding from the program.
“This funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, consistent with provisions in my Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act, will help Colorado reduce harmful pollution from dangerous orphaned oil and gas wells," said Bennet. "I welcome this much-needed support to reduce methane emissions, create good-paying jobs, protect our watersheds, and restore wildlife habitat in our state.”
“Methane leaks are more dangerous than carbon dioxide to communities and the environment,” said Hickenlooper. “Now we will stop leaks and create good-paying union jobs in the process.”
Plugging orphan wells will help reduce methane emissions. Last year, Bennet introduced legislation to clean up abandoned, or orphaned, oil and gas wells while strengthening bonding requirements and expanding opportunities for local input in lease sales on public lands— consistent with Department of Interior funding to support programs to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells on Federal, State, and Tribal lands.
Colorado has led this effort since then-Governor Hickenlooper established the first-ever regulations for methane emissions. Colorado’s regulations became the national model established under President Obama and the Global Methane Pledge more than 100 countries have signed onto.
Colorado will use the funds to begin plugging and remediating 710 abandoned wells identified by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s initial grant funds.
Millions of Americans live within a mile of one of the tens of thousands of documented orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill’s historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying, union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce dangerous methane leaks. In addition to the funding announced today, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill created a $150 million Tribal orphaned well grant program and a separate $250 million program for remediation of orphan wells on federal land, which will be implemented by the Bureau of Land Management.