Alaska Delegation Welcomes $32 Million Available to Alaska for Legacy Well Cleanup

Funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Will Create Jobs and Clean Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, released the following statements after the U.S. Department of the Interior announced $1.15 billion is available states to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells. The funding is available through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was signed into law on November 15, 2021, with $32.2 million available to Alaska: 

“The failure to address legacy wells has long been an issue in too many communities, putting the health and safety of Alaskans at risk. Funding coming directly from the bipartisan infrastructure law will invest in the cleanup of these wells—sparking economic growth through job creation, strengthen the health of communities, and protect the environment which many communities rely on for subsistence use,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’ve prioritized investing in legacy well cleanup through my role as the former Chair and current Ranking Member of the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. From shepherding the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 into law—which sent significant funding to abandoned wells, to continually pressing federal agencies to clean up these wells and providing the funds necessary to do so, plugging these wells has been a critical effort of mine over the years. Building on those efforts, I was one of the lead authors of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is helping provide solutions to these wells, and ensuring the needs of Alaskans are addressed. This new funding announcement, on top of the $250 million program for remediation of orphan wells on federal land, are just the start of exciting infrastructure opportunities to come for Alaskan projects.”

“It is our duty as stewards of Alaska’s lands to conserve our environment, an ethic that has guided policy makers in our great state for decades,” said Senator Sullivan. “For too long, though, officials at the federal level have neglected their duty to clean up old, orphaned oil and gas wells in our state and across the country. Some of these polluted lands have even been conveyed to Alaska Natives over the years in furtherance of the historic Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. That is unacceptable. The bipartisan infrastructure bill we passed last year is making a difference, providing new funding to rectify this injustice and restore many of the lands we rely on to the pristine condition Alaskans expect.”

“This week’s announcement from the Department of the Interior is yet another example of our continued momentum on infrastructure funding. Alaska's oil and gas industry is vitally important to our economy, and we have always taken our responsibility to balance development with environmental protection very seriously,” said Congressman Don Young. “Addressing orphaned oil wells is crucial to protecting communities and ecosystems, in addition to preventing potentially dangerous methane leaks. When Congress was drafting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I worked hard to ensure Alaska would benefit from investments created by this new funding stream. These grants will go a long way toward cleaning up orphaned oil and gas wells in Alaska and the benefits extend far beyond just our environment. This funding will also help create good-paying jobs to expand economic empowerment for families across our state. I am grateful to DOI for recognizing this great need in Alaska, and will continue working hard to secure a bright future for Alaska's infrastructure.”

Related Issues: Infrastructure