Texas receives $80 million to plug orphaned oil, gas wells

January 17, 2024

The Department of the Interior has allocated $80 million to help the state of Texas reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells statewide. The goal is to prevent environmental damage, protect public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with these abandoned wells.

The grant will help the state plug and cap orphaned wells, measure their methane emissions, screen groundwater and surface water and prioritize cleaning up wells in underserved areas, the DOI said.

The money comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which will make $2 billion in formula grants available over the coming years to combat legacy pollution.

The DOI last year made $660 million available to 26 states, including Texas, to clean up legacy pollution. Texas’ $80 million is the first award to come from that round of funding. It is also the first in an expected series of annual formula grants that will total almost $320 million for the state to plug and reclaim orphaned wells.

“I’ve seen many of these toxic sites firsthand, including abandoned wells outside Houston that were actively leaking oil and needed to be urgently addressed. With this historic funding, Texas can continue the progress it has made plugging wells over the last year,” DOI secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

Orphaned wells are hazardous sites that can no longer be maintained or properly closed. They can leak oil or gas, poisoning the surrounding environment, or release methane, one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Abandoned wells also run the risk of catching fire or exploding, posing a threat to nearby communities.

The grants are a part of the federal Justice40 initiative to aid disadvantaged and marginalized communities and furthers the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, passed in 2021.

This funding round is in addition to $560 million in grants to reclaim orphaned wells announced in August 2022. Since then, states have plugged nearly 6,000 wells, including 730 in Texas.

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. can provide information on contract opportunities, plus existing and future government funding. For more information, contact research@spartnerships.com.

Photo by Steve Hillebrand via Wikimedia Commons

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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