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Abandoned oil wells may be eligible for remediation


Some of Los Angeles’ orphaned oil wells may be remediated through an initial allocation of  $61.4 million to California through the bipartisan infrastructure law’s funding to help states clean up orphaned wells, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) said this week.

“For far too long, legacy pollution has disproportionately impacted the health and safety of our low income and communities of color,” Cárdenas said.

“No one should have to live with the daily threat of polluted air and water from abandoned and orphaned oil wells. Funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law will help us clean up these wells, protect our communities, create jobs and advance environmental justice. Combined with the city’s efforts, the $61.4 million made available to California will help ensure families can live, work and go to school without the constant threat of toxic air pollution from orphaned wells.”

The $61.4 million for California is part of an initial round that includes $1.15 billion for states across the U.S. There will be additional opportunities for California to receive more funding.

The bipartisan infrastructure law includes a total of $4.7 billion in remediation funding for oil wells nationwide. A total of 5,000 oil wells have been identified statewide as eligible for a portion of the funding, said Uduak-Joe Ntuk, California’s Oil and Gas Supervisor, during a news conference with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

His agency, the California Geologic Energy Management Division, is responsible for preparing an application for the funding. The state competed with about 30 other states for portions of the funds, he said.

Haaland noted during the news conference that Los Angeles County has “one of the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells of any city in the entire country, with some recent estimates suggesting that 500,000 people in L.A. live within half a mile of a well.”

“I’ve spent the day seeing first hand how legacy pollution impacts people in the neighborhoods they live in. Kids who are relegated to having baseball practice next to oil pump jacks and gas wells, children who have grown up with bloody noses and the loss of the adults in their lives to cancer,” Haaland said.

Los Angeles County has about 1,400 wells identified for potential remediation funding.