Federal funding will help plug abandoned oil wells

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — About $35.2 million in federal funding will be coming to the state of California to plug 206 high-risk orphaned oil and gas wells, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced in Los Angeles May 17.

Haaland, who joined Mayor Karen Bass at a downtown event as part of national Infrastructure Week, said the funding will also aid in the decommissioning of 47 attendant production facilities with approximately 70,000 feet of associated pipelines. Haaland also announced matching grant guidance for states to access $30 million each in additional funding for orphaned well cleanup.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is creating jobs and revitalizing local economies while cleaning up harmful legacy pollution sites throughout the country,” Haaland said in a statement.

She added, “I’ve seen firsthand, including right here in Los Angeles, the urgent need to address these hazardous sites, many of which are actively leaking oil and releasing methane gas.”

Haaland made the announcement following a briefing by the California Geologic Energy Management Division on the impact of the funding the state has received to date. Joining the secretary in the discussion were Bass, California Deputy Secretary for Energy Le-Quyen Nguyen, labor representatives and environmental justice advocates. Haaland previously visited Los Angeles in December 2021 to highlight the impacts of legacy pollution.

The $35 million is coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is providing an overall $660 million in phase one formula grant funds being released on a rolling basis. As part of the award, California will detect and measure methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells, screen for groundwater and surface water impacts, and prioritize cleaning up wells near overburdened and disadvantaged communities.

“This is an issue of environmental justice,” Bass said in a statement. “Today we are locking arms across the city, state and federal governments to continue our work to end neighborhood oil drilling in the city of Los Angeles to protect the health of Angelenos and advance our vision of environmental justice.”

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