Padilla Announces California Eligible for Over $61 Million in Federal Funding to Clean Up Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides major investment in capping and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that California is eligible for $61,495,000 in the first phase of federal funding to plug orphaned oil and gas wells. This funding from the US Department of the Interior comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Padilla voted to pass last year.

The California Natural Resources Agency has documented 5,356 oil, gas, and geothermal orphaned wells on state and private lands.

“California is home to thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells that are endangering California’s communities,” Senator Alex Padilla said. “Abandoned wells are an environmental hazard, leaking harmful methane into the air, polluting drinking water, and accelerating the climate crisis. This is an issue that affects the health of both rural and urban Californians, particularly those living in Los Angeles and Central Valley communities who are forced to live, work, and play next to unplugged oil and gas wells. I am proud to announce the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing California the opportunity to implement a strategic plan to plug wells while protecting communities, creating good-paying jobs, and reducing toxic methane emissions.”

Initial funding will allow state officials to begin building out well plugging programs, remediating high-priority wells, and collecting additional data regarding the number of orphaned wells. States will be eligible to apply for additional future funding from the Department of Interior.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated a total of $4.7 billion to create a new federal program to address orphaned wells. Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. Plugging orphaned wells will help advance the goals of the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, as well as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on spurring economic revitalization in the hard-hit energy communities.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provides for a separate $250 million program for remediation of orphan wells on federal land, which will be implemented through Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The Tribal orphaned well grant program, a $150 million component of the broader orphaned well program, is being informed by ongoing Tribal consultations and listening sessions.


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