N.M. Delegation Welcomes Establishment Of Orphaned Wells Program Office To Implement Historic Investments From Infrastructure Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) are welcoming the Biden administration establishing an Orphaned Wells Program Office to ensure effective, accountable, and efficient implementation of the Infrastructure Law’s historic investment in orphaned well clean-up. Last year, $43.7 million was allocated for first phase of funding available to New Mexico for orphaned well clean-up to create good-paying jobs, ensure healthy communities, and revitalize rural economies.

“Orphan wells are an enormous source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than CO2. Thanks to funding championed by New Mexico Congressional Democrats we’re putting our traditional energy workers to work solving a major climate challenge,” said Heinrich.

“Throughout my congressional career, I have made it a top priority to clean up the historically harmful pollutants that harm vulnerable communities in New Mexico and across the country,” said Luján. “Orphaned oil and gas wells have posed a severe health risk to countless Americans for far too long, which is why I was proud to secure historic funding to clean them up through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Secretary Haaland and the Department of Interior have been great partners in this mission to plug and remediate our orphan wells, and I look forward to working with this newly established Orphaned Wells Program Office to coordinate this effort with our state and local agencies.”

“Our communities deserve fresh air and clean water. I was proud to help deliver critical funding to plug orphan oil and gas wells, and I am grateful to Secretary Haaland for implementing this vital program with the Orphaned Wells Program Office to help restore New Mexico’s lands and waters,” said Stansbury. “Plugging orphan wells is a matter of environmental justice that will help secure a healthier future for our communities while creating good-paying jobs for New Mexicans.”

“Orphaned oil and gas wells threaten the public health and safety of our children and hard-working communities, they damage our lands, waters, air, and climate. The Secretary’s announcement to establish an Orphaned Wells Program Office will put the $4.7 billion that I championed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug orphaned wells to work efficiently and effectively. The well plugging and clean up will create jobs and a healthier environment for New Mexico. Not a dime should be left in Washington that can be put to good use in New Mexico and this office helps us achieve that,” said Leger Fernández.

“Bringing home funding that addresses severe health risks posed by orphaned wells is a priority of mine,” said Vasquez. “I plan to work alongside Secretary Haaland to ensure this funding addresses the health and environmental impacts in our district. Addressing these hazards will ensure we’re protecting our most vulnerable communities.”

The Infrastructure Law allocated a total of $4.7 billion to create a new federal program to address orphan wells. The announcement from the U.S. Department of the Interior establishes 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 enable better communication with states, Tribes and other partners. The office will be led by Director Kimbra Davis. ###


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