CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s U.S. Senators are optimistic that new funding to address the growing number of orphaned wells will create good-paying jobs, ensure healthy communities and revitalize rural economies across the state.
Last week, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced West Virginia will receive $25 million to plug, remediate and reclaim 160 orphaned wells throughout the state.
These projects will be funded through an initial national award of $560 million from the Department of the Interior to address and clean up orphaned oil and gas wells on Federal lands across the United States. This funding was made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and will reduce methane emissions, clean up the environment and help reinvigorate communities across West Virginia impacted by orphaned oil and gas wells.
“I’m pleased the Department of the Interior is continuing to effectively implement my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law by announcing this additional funding for orphaned well clean-up projects, including 160 wells across West Virginia. These projects will ensure West Virginia’s hardworking communities can remain safe and healthy for future generations, while also bringing new economic opportunities and creating good-paying jobs for our communities. I look forward to seeing West Virginia move quickly to utilize these funds and, as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue advocating for resources to ensure communities across the Mountain State can rebuild and succeed once again,” said Chairman Manchin.
“When we crafted the bipartisan infrastructure law, addressing abandoned wells scattered throughout our nation and in West Virginia was an important priority. It takes key investments to help local communities meet the challenges posed by these orphaned wells, and that’s exactly what this will provide. In this round of funding alone, our state will be able to plug and begin to remediate 160 wells, which will have a major impact in nearly every corner of our state,” Senator Capito said.
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 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.