Federal Funding Boosts California Effort To Seal Abandoned Oil Wells

The state’s oil-producing regions are dotted with oil wells that contribute to water and air pollution and threaten public health.

1 minute read

April 29, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New funding from the federal infrastructure bill will help California seal the 5,356 abandoned oil wells littering the state, “polluting drinking water and leaking methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.” According to reporting by Olga Grigoryants, “Nearly $165 million will be available from the federal infrastructure law, which invests billions of dollars in roads, bridges and climate-related programs.” This is in addition to the $200 million proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom for the same issue.

“Officials with ​​​​​​​​​​​the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, which oversees plugging abandoned wells, said they are working to identify wells that pose the most health and safety risks to disadvantaged communities, to give them priority.” For example, “In Los Angeles, nearly 600,000 people live within just a half-mile of oil or gas wells, one of the highest concentration rates in the country.”

The article notes that “Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council took steps to phase out oil drilling and gas extraction in the city after voting in support of a ban on new oil wells,” with the county following suit. Meanwhile, “The state is moving toward banning drilling new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and hospitals.”

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