SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is eligible for $25 million in federal funding to plug and clean up abandoned oil and natural gas wells under a new phase of an initiative aimed at lingering pollution that jeopardizes public health, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján announced Wednesday.
The administration of President Joe Biden this week announced it was moving forward with a nearly $660 million round of grant funding to clean up hazardous abandoned oil and gas extraction sites. New Mexico has until the end of the year to formally apply for a share of that funding.
In a statement, Luján highlighted his legislative work to clean up orphaned wells on federal, state and tribal lands — in efforts to spur employment while reducing the leaks of climate-warming methane and the risks of above- and below-ground water pollution.
In anticipation of federal funding opportunities, New Mexico in 2021 identified more than 1,700 orphaned wells that could take $290 million to plug and clean up.
Congress in 2021 committed $4.7 billion in infrastructure spending to plug and reclaim orphaned wells and associated sites across the country.
Separately, New Mexico's State Land Office is leading efforts to have the industry pay to plug inactive wells on state trust land. The office recently announced a ban on all new oil and gas leases on state trust land within a mile (1.6 kilometers) of schools or other educational institutions.
New Mexico and its Democratic governor are being sued over alleged failures to meet constitutional provisions for protecting against oil and gas pollution.
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