Orphaned Wells

Millions of Americans across the country live within just one mile from an abandoned coal mine or an orphaned oil and gas well. These legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting noxious gases like methane, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment, creating flooding and sinkhole risks, and harming wildlife. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history.  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directed the Secretary of the Interior to establish programs to inventory and properly close orphaned wells. The Law provides $4.7 billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation and restoration activities on federal, Tribal, state and private lands. This historic investment will reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from orphaned wells, help clean up water contamination, restore native habitat, create good-paying union jobs and benefit disproportionately impacted communities.  The Department prioritizes a coordinated and unified whole of government approach to environmental justice issues and supports the Administration's Justice40 Initiative, a whole-of government approach to advancing environmental justice.

Program implementation is guided by the Department’s Orphaned Wells Program Office, created by Secretary Deb Haaland through Secretary’s Order 3409. The Orphaned Wells Program Office is a program covered under the Justice40 Initiative. 


To learn more about orphaned oil and gas wells, including their environmental impacts and what is being done to clean up these hazardous sites, please visit the Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells 101 StoryMap.

To view an interactive map of orphaned wells plugged across the country between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023, with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, including highlights and additional details for a group of sites that represent a range of well conditions, locations, impacts, and histories featured on the map, please visit the Plugging Away StoryMap.


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