The United States Department of the Interior announced recently it will begin plugging up about 10,000 so-called “orphaned” oil wells across the United States in order to prevent them from further polluting the environment.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland released a statement on August 25 announcing the $560 million grant that will be used to plug abandoned and out-of-use old oil wells in several states, including California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio.
The orphaned wells emit large amounts of methane into their surrounding communities, “polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country,” Haaland said. “Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.”
The Interior Department plans to ensure underprivileged communities are well-served with this initiative. “At the Department of the Interior, we are working on multiple fronts to clean up these sites as quickly as we can by investing in efforts on federal lands and partnering with states and Tribes to leave no community behind,” she wrote.
Included in the initiative are plans for three states – California, Mississippi and West Virginia – to measure methane levels before and after the plugging of the wells to determine the environmental impact closing the wells will have on communities nationwide. Haaland also pointed out that in addition to curbing methane leaks, the plan will “create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization.”
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MLIVE.COM
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