New Mexico Congressional Delegation Welcomes Establishment of Orphaned Wells Program Office

News from the New Mexico Congressional Delegation:

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.) and U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (DN.M.), Teresa Leger Fernández (DN.M.) and Gabe Vasquez (DN .M.) welcome the Biden administration’s establishment of an Orphan Well Program Office to ensure effective, accountable, and efficient implementation of the Infrastructure Act’s historic investment in cleaning up orphan wells.

Last year it was $43.7 million allocated for the first phase of funding available to New Mexico to clean up abandoned wells to create high-paying jobs, ensure healthy communities, and revitalize rural economies.

“Abandoned wells are a tremendous source of methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO2. Thanks to funding backed by New Mexico congressional Democrats, we are using our traditional energy workers to solve a major climate challenge,” Heinrich said.

“Throughout my congressional career, I have made it a top priority to clean up the historically harmful pollutants that are damaging vulnerable communities in New Mexico and across the country,” Luján said. “Abandoned oil and gas wells have posed a serious health risk to countless Americans for far too long, which is why I am proud to receive historic funding for their rehabilitation through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Minister Haaland and the Home Office have been great partners in this mission to plug and rehabilitate our orphan wells and I look forward to working with this newly established Orphan Well Program Office to coordinate these efforts with our state and local authorities.”

“Our communities deserve fresh air and clean water. I was proud to help provide critical funding to plug orphaned oil and gas wells and am grateful to Secretary Haaland for implementing this important program with the Orphaned Wells Program Office to help restore land and water in New Mexico.” said Stansbury. “Clogging orphan wells is an environmental justice issue that will help ensure a healthier future for our communities while providing high-paying jobs for New Mexico residents.”

“Orphan oil and gas wells threaten the public health and safety of our children and hard-working communities, damaging our land, water, air and climate. The Secretary’s announcement of establishing an Orphan Wells Program Office will provide the $4.7 billion I lobbied for in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to plug orphan wells so they can run efficiently and effectively. Plugging and cleaning wells will create jobs and a healthier environment for New Mexico. Not a penny should be left in Washington that can be put to good use in New Mexico, and this office is helping us make that happen,” said Leger Fernández.

“Bringing home funds that address the serious health risks from abandoned wells is one of my priorities,” Vasquez said. “I plan to work with Minister Haaland to ensure this funding takes into account the health and environmental impacts in our district. Addressing these threats will ensure we protect our most vulnerable communities.”

The Infrastructure Act allocated a total of $4.7 billion to create a new federal program to combat abandoned wells. the Notice from the U.S. Department of the Interior is establishing a new program office at the Department under the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to ensure timely and transparent implementation of the new program and to facilitate better communication with states, tribes and other partners. The office is headed by Director Kimbra Davis.