Governor Hochul Announces $25 Million Awarded to New York State Under Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Plug Orphan Oil and Gas Wells
Funds Bolster New York’s Ongoing Efforts To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Protect Ground and Surface Waters
(STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced the United States Department of Interior awarded New York State $25 million under its Initial Grant Program. The funds, included in the federal landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, bolster New York’s ongoing efforts to help reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from aging and abandoned oil and gas infrastructure, as well as protect ground and surface waters.
“By locating, assessing, and plugging these decades-old oil and gas wells, we are making major contributions towards reducing air pollution that significantly contributes to climate change by preventing them from leaking methane into the environment,” Governor Hochul said. “Methane represents almost 10 percent of the state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing it is a key piece of New York’s commitment to confronting the existential threat of climate change head on. I thank the New York Congressional Delegation for including this effort in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and look forward to putting these funds to good use.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC looks forward to expanding our progress in plugging orphaned oil and gas wells for the benefit of the environment and public safety. I applaud the federal government for coming together on this bipartisan agreement to reduce risks abandoned wells present to surface and groundwater. Unplugged wells also emit methane, a known contributor to climate change. These funds will help us to continue our work to achieve New York’s ambitious climate goals.”
In 2020, DEC and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced the deployment of state-of-the-art drone technology to map and locate oil and gas wells, some of which were abandoned more than a century ago prior to the existence of New York’s regulatory framework. To support this effort, in conjunction with the New York Works Well Plugging Initiative, NYSERDA invested in custom-built drone equipment and instrumentation for DEC drone pilots to detect the presence of abandoned oil and gas wells, primarily located in Central and Western New York, that may present risks to the environment. These regions were drilled for oil and gas starting in the 19th Century before the State’s stringent regulatory programs and often in remote locations.
Since 2013, DEC has plugged more than 400 wells and DEC’s work on abandoned wells in New York indicates that thousands of additional wells may continue to emit methane gas into the atmosphere. These federal funds, made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, support ongoing efforts in New York to properly plug oil and gas wells.
The federal funding announced today complements New York’s many steps to reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. Earlier this year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced finalized regulations that require significant reductions in methane and other harmful emissions from any oil and natural gas infrastructure in New York State. The regulations mark a milestone in realizing the State’s nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda by reducing methane emissions by more than 14,000 metric tons per year and volatile organic compound emissions by over 2,000 tons per year. In addition, regulations in 2020 establish limits requiring that statewide emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases be reduced 40 percent by 2030, 85 percent by 2050, including emissions associated with imported electricity and fossil fuels.
Senator Chuck Schumer said, “Upstate New York, from the Southern Tier and Central New York to Western New York and the Finger Lakes, has been plagued by orphaned oil and gas wells for decades creating hidden hazards that can seep pollution into our backyards, drinking water sources, and communities. Now, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Law that that I championed, Upstate New York will receive $25 million in desperately-needed funding to confront these long-standing environmental challenges and plug hundreds of these wells. I am proud to deliver this significant federal investment to create good-paying local jobs to fight climate change and ensure that municipalities do not have to take on the full financial burden to clean up their communities from the remnants of the fossil fuel industry.”
Representative Nydia Velázquez said, “The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the future of our planet, and greenhouse gases are a major contributor to this crisis. I was proud to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which has provided New York more funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us better protect our environment. With this money, New York can start to plug orphan oil and gas wells in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prevent contaminants from getting in our water.”
Representative Paul Tonko said, “Seizing opportunities to tackle climate change in our infrastructure work will create a cleaner, safer, more competitive America. That’s why I’ve long made climate action and environmental remediation top priorities and pushed for robust investments in our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and with our recent Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate response Congress has taken in history. I’ll continue fighting for Federal funding that supports New York’s efforts to create jobs, address environmental injustice, grow our economy, and build a better future for us all.”
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a critical component of New York’s nation-leading climate agenda, the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and jus transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy. Outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is also on a path to achieving its mandated zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and eventually reach economy-wide carbon neutrality.
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