The BlueGreen Alliance Comments on the Department of Interior’s Orphaned Well Program
Cleaning up orphaned wells in the U.S. is a great example of how America’s environmental challenges can also be economic opportunities. In communities across the country, these wells pose significant public health and environmental hazards, often leaking methane gas, contaminating surface and groundwater, and degrading ecosystems. Orphaned wells (and pollution from leaking wells and associated infrastructure) are widespread in states where BGA works, especially in Appalachia and the southern midcontinent. This pollution harms the health of nearby communities, livestock and wildlife, while jeopardizing economies dependent upon outdoor recreation industries, farming and ranching.
Reclamation not only remediates the host of environmental and health problems associated with these sites but also frees up land for new, more sustainable economic development opportunities in industry sectors like agriculture, recreational tourism, manufacturing, and even clean energy production. Cleaning up these wells can also create immediate job opportunities. A recent BlueGreen Alliance analysis found that the IIJA’s $21 billion investment in the remediation of Superfund, Brownfield, mine, and orphaned wells would create more than 150,000 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) over the next 10 years. Orphaned well cleanup could create over 33,000 of those jobs.