SCHUMER ANNOUNCES $25 MILLION IN FED FUNDING TO HELP UPSTATE NEW YORK PLUG ORPHAN OIL AND GAS WELLS THROUGH THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE & JOBS LAW; SENATOR SAYS FED $$$ WILL SUPERCHARGE NY EFFORTS TO ADDRESS LEGACY POLLUTION, FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE, AND CLEAN UP COMMUNITIES ACROSS UPSTATE
Orphaned Wells - Abandoned Sites From The Fossil Fuel Industry - Can Leak Methane And Other Pollutants Into Communities And Water Sources
New York Is Home To Nearly 7,000 Orphaned Wells With Many In The Southern Tier, Western NY, Central NY, And Finger Lakes Putting Communities At Risk Of Contamination; Schumer Delivered Fed Funding Will Boost NY Efforts To Plug, Remediate, and Reclaim These Hazardous Sites
Schumer: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Will Help Plug Hundreds Of Abandoned Oil Wells, Keeping Waters Clean, Communities Safe, And Stopping Greenhouse Gas Emissions In Upstate New York
On the heels of delivering the largest federal investment in fighting climate change in history, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today announced $25 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to bolster New York State’s efforts to plug, cap, and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells in Upstate New York. New York has nearly 7,000 of these abandoned sites from the fossil fuel industry, concentrated heavily in the Southern Tier, Western NY, Central NY and the Finger Lakes, which can leak methane and other pollutants, posing a serious safety hazard and further fueling climate change. Schumer said this investment, which comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, will bolster New York’s ongoing efforts to find and plug these hazardous old gas and oil wells, clean up our environment, protect waters from contamination, and fight climate change, all while creating good-paying jobs.
“Upstate New York, from the Southern Tier and Central New York to Western New York and the Finger Lakes, has been plagued by orphaned oil and gas wells for decades creating hidden hazards that can pollute our backyards, drinking water sources, and communities. Now, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Law that I championed, Upstate New York will receive $25 million in desperately-needed funding to confront these long-standing environmental challenges and plug hundreds of these wells,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to deliver this significant federal investment to create good-paying local jobs to fight climate change and ensure that municipalities do not have to take on the full financial burden to clean up the remnants of the fossil fuel industry.”
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), most of these orphaned oil and gas wells across the state were drilled in the late 1800s to early 1900s, prior to the establishment of modern environmental protections, and as a result, lack comprehensive documentation and may present threats to public safety and the environment. These wells are predominantly found in the Southern Tier, Western New York, the Finger Lakes and Central New York regions – with the highest number of orphaned wells in Allegany County. If left unplugged, orphaned wells can leak methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and other toxic contaminants into the environment and ground and surface waters. This funding will go directly to helping to bolster ongoing work to plug, cap, and reclaim these orphaned wells and keep our communities safe.
New York is already leading the charge nationally in locating and plugging these wells. In 2020, the DEC and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) launched a new program using state-of-the-art drone and magnetometer technology to map abandoned oil and gas wells.
Schumer said that these orphaned wells are a major contributor to climate change and plugging them is integral to both the health of our local communities and our planet. The EPA estimates that methane emissions from these abandoned wells are equivalent to over 6 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act provided a historic $4.7 billion to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells via grants to States and new federal programs to tackle legacy pollution. As of 2021, there have been more than 129,000 orphaned wells identified across the United States, with this number expected to grow as more are found using funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funding announced today is part of an overall $1.15 billion in Phase One awards announced from the DOI for states to plug and remediate orphaned wells, with more formula funding expected in the coming months.
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