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Louisiana expected to get $111M to clean up abandoned wells

February 1, 2022 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana is expected to eventually get $111.4 million to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells under the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, members of the state’s congressional delegation said Monday.

The state could be eligible for additional money under the law’s $1.5 billion state performance grant program, Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Democratic U.S. Rep. Troy Carter said in separate news releases.

“This a critical first step to protect Louisiana’s communities and ecosystems from the hazards of orphan oil and gas wells,” Carter said.

The first phase of the “orphan well” program could bring Louisiana about $47.4 million, they said.

In its notice of intent to apply, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said the state has about 4,600 abandoned wells, and cleanup is likely to cost $401.7 million.

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“I’ve heard from communities across Louisiana about the environmental and safety hazards of orphan wells,” Cassidy said.

He said the money “will create jobs, help state officials address these wells and make Louisiana a cleaner place to live. In addition, the land around these wells can be repurposed and lead to an economic boost.

Louisiana’s notice said that from March 1, 2020, to Nov. 15, 2021, the state lost 12,256 oil and gas jobs -- 23.4% of its total.

The U.S. Department of the Interior said $4.7 billion for a new federal program to deal with abandoned wells includes $1.15 billion for states, Carter said.

He said Interior will release details in coming weeks about what states need to include in applications for initial grants.

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This version corrects “application” to “notice of intent to apply.”