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Democrats Propose $8 Billion Bill To Clean Up Abandoned Wells

U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez has introduced a bill proposing $8 billion to be spent on plugging and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells in a bid to create new jobs in the energy industry and reduce fugitive methane emissions that abandoned wells continue to generate until they are plugged.

Reuters quoted the sponsor of the bill as saying that it “does the two things that the American Jobs Plan is looking at, which is both create jobs and address some of the pressing national problems we have.”

Of the total amount proposed in the bill, the bulk, at $7.25 billion, would take the form of grants, to be provided for well cleanups on state and private lands, and the rest would go towards well plugging on public and tribal lands.

Rep. Fernandez’s bill comes days after President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan, worth more than $2.3 trillion. The Plan includes an allocation of $16 billion for abandoned well cleanup and plugging.

As a means to reduce the national total in harmful gas emissions, the well-plugging plan is certainly relevant. As a job creator—not so much. Plugging abandoned wells and cleaning up around them could only provide temporary rather than long-term employment for the tens of thousands of oil and gas industry workers that stand to lose their jobs as a result of Biden’s green push.

There are more than 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States, according to EPA data, and they leaked some 281 kilotons of methane, Reuters reported last year. This is equal to the U.S. total emissions output over a typical day, the report noted, or the equivalent of consuming 16 million barrels of oil.

However, the EPA noted in its report that the actual amount of methane emitted by abandoned wells could be three times higher than the reported figures.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Lee James on April 10 2021 said:
    The oil industry needs to pay its own way.

    We have a lot of controversy over regulating oil extraction and transport. We wonder about how much to restrict the industry considering the downsides of burning oil. Some of the regulation -- like that around the Keystone pipeline -- seems arbitrary.

    A lot of appearance-of-fairness issues would go away just by having the industry pay in full as it goes along. Pollution is certainly one of the costs it should pay for.
  • Phil Nelson on April 10 2021 said:
    How about the oil companies be required to use some of their profit to finish their job rather than taxpayers. Why isn't clean up required as a part of the permitting process?

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