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Michigan NewsMichigan receives major funding boost to seal orphaned oil and gas wells

Michigan receives major funding boost to seal orphaned oil and gas wells

Michigan – Michigan has been given a significant amount of money, totaling $5.87 million, to keep up its efforts in sealing and rehabilitating orphaned oil and gas wells throughout the state. This financial support was made public by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland while she engaged with local officials and leaders from industry and labor during a meeting about old environmental hazards that took place on March 26 in Wayne, Michigan.

Adam Wygant, the director of the of the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), expressed his enthusiastic approval of this recent development.

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“We are very pleased with today’s announcement and the continued work with the Department of the Interior,” said Adam Wygant. “It is allowing us to protect groundwater, return sites to full use, put people to work, and mitigate methane leaks. This federal funding is allowing us to do decades of work within the span of two to four years.”

Secretary Haaland highlighted that this financial contribution is part of a groundbreaking national plan to address longstanding pollution problems. This includes a staggering $4.7 billion dedicated specifically for addressing the issue of orphaned wells. She noted that initial grants amounting to $560 million were distributed among 24 states back in August 2022 as a starting effort in this massive cleanup operation. Of that initial endowment, Michigan received $25 million to commence its part in clearing up these neglected wells.

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Since the allocation of those funds, significant progress has been seen nationwide; already over 7,000 wells have been plugged by participating states with Michigan contributing to this effort by sealing more than 200 wells on its own territory. This activity hints at a reduction of around 11,530 metric tons in methane emissions that could have potentially been released into the atmosphere. The investment is also believed to have spawned over 7,213 jobs across the country and infused over $900 million into the economy during the past two fiscal years.

All these efforts are integrated into a larger framework put forth by the President focused not only on tackling environmental challenges but also on boosting jobs that offer competitive wages and benefits within unions. Furthermore, it aims at sparking economic progress and rejuvenation while aligning actions to decrease methane emissions which are detrimental to our environment.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is creating jobs and revitalizing local economies while cleaning up harmful legacy pollution sites throughout the country,” said Secretary Haaland. “I’ve seen many of these hazardous sites firsthand that are actively leaking oil and releasing methane gas that need to be urgently addressed. With this historic funding, Michigan can continue the progress made plugging wells over the last year. These investments are good for our climate, for the health of our communities, and for American workers.”

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Michigan has a plan to carefully track methane released from orphaned wells that it seals and will check if these old wells are affecting the quality of water both underground and on the surface. The state will also focus on cleaning up wells that are close to communities that are struggling with poverty, those areas with indigenous populations, and neighborhoods that have faced systemic disadvantages. This plan is in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, aiming to ensure that 40 percent of the benefits from certain government investments aid communities that historically haven’t had enough support and have been burdened by environmental harm.

Across the nation, orphaned oil and gas wells are causing problems in places where people live, enjoy leisure activities, and gather as communities. These wells left unplugged are more than just an eyesore; they’re a health risk because they can spoil underground water sources, send harmful pollutants into the air we breathe, and emit methane. Methane is particularly harmful – it powerfully impacts climate change because it’s much more effective than carbon dioxide at making our planet warmer. Taking action to seal these old wells is part of the wider strategies of the Biden-Harris administration, which includes their comprehensive plan to cut down on methane emissions in the U.S.

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More details are in the press release issued by the Department of Interior.