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Arkansas Gets $5.6M Grant to Plug Orphaned Oil Wells

2 min read

The Department of the Interior announced $30.59 million in grants to Arkansas and Louisiana to plug and reclaim orphaned oil and gas sites, with Arkansas receiving $5.59 million.

As part of these awards, Arkansas and Louisiana will detect and measure methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells, prioritize cleaning up wells near overburdened and disadvantaged communities and screen for groundwater and water impacts, the department said in a news release.

“Toxic orphaned oil and gas wells have plagued American communities for generations,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is empowering states and Tribes across the country to address this long-standing environmental injustice by making a historic investment to plug these wells, which will create jobs and revitalize local economies.”

The funding comes from President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda, pulling funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual appropriations.

The new goals serve as an advancement of the Justice40 Initiative, a goal to deliver 40% of the benefits from certain federal investments, such as climate and clean energy initiatives, to disadvantaged communities.

Since August 2022, the department has awarded $565 million in funding to 25 states, including $5 million to Arkansas to begin plugging and cleaning up orphaned wells. Arkansas has plugged 57 wells since the beginning of the initiative. 

States are also eligible for $1.5 billion in performance grants under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted in November 2021.

“With this historic funding, Arkansas and Louisiana will continue the progress already made plugging wells and begin to turn the tide on these environmental hazards that are harming our lands, waters and air,” Haaland said.

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