January 31, 2022

Manchin, Capito and McKinley Announce $141 Million From Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Clean Up Legacy Of Abandoned Wells

Orphaned well clean-up will create good-paying jobs, ensure healthy communities and revitalize rural economies

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Representative David McKinley (R-WV) announced West Virginia is eligible for $141,932,226 from the Department of the Interior to plug, remediate and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. The first phase of funding includes up to $25,000,000 in initial grants and another $30,293,000 in the first phase of formula grants. This funding was made possible by the recently enacted bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and will simultaneously reduce methane emissions, clean up the environment and help reinvigorate communities across West Virginia impacted by abandoned oil and gas wells.

“For generations, West Virginians have made tremendous sacrifices and done the heavy lifting that built our nation. The investments from my bipartisan infrastructure law will continue recognizing West Virginia’s enormous contributions and reinvest in our communities by cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells, creating new opportunities to rebuild and thrive while keeping our rivers, lakes, and lands healthy for generations to come. I’m pleased with the Administration’s commitment to quickly and effectively implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and I look forward to seeing our state move quickly to put these funds to work,” Chairman Manchin said.

“Far too many communities in West Virginia face negative environmental impacts due to abandoned wells that cause pollution in our public lands, backyards, and recreational areas. This funding announced today will help give the state the resources needed to address these hazardous sites while creating good-paying jobs at the same time. Maintaining the natural landscape and scenery West Virginia is famous for is a benefit of the bipartisan infrastructure law I helped craft, and it will continue to have a positive impact on our state’s workers now and in the future,” Senator Capito said.

“West Virginia is seeing immediate benefits of the $6 billion investment in our state’s hard infrastructure. Cleaning up orphaned oil and gas wells has long been a priority that will create jobs and economic opportunity for our state. We look forward to the swift and efficient distribution of this first grant of $55 million, with significantly more funding on the way, to address orphaned well projects, and achieving our goal of improving the quality of life and opportunities for the people of West Virginia,” said Rep. McKinley.

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 newly announced 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.