Latino Voices Must Be Heard In Public Comment Period on New Orphaned Well Program

Washington D.C -  The Department of the Interior has released guidance to states on how to apply for the first $775 million in grant funding available this year under the Infrastructure and Investment Act. These grants are to help clean up polluted and unsafe orphaned oil and gas well sites across the country.  As a part of the roll out of these funds, there will also be a public comment period (more on that below).

In response to this announcement Irene Burga, Climate Justice and Clean Air Program Director released the following statement:

“Sadly Latinos across the country are living near polluted areas, sometimes living close to an orphaned oil and gas well. These orphaned wells pose a major health and safety risk and exist at the peril of hurting our families and our communities.

While we applaud the investment in cleaning these polluted areas, we must make sure that these resources actually reach our communities. Latino voices must be heard during this comment period. States that apply for funding must ensure that programs address leaking wells that release methane and other toxic co-pollutants, and that state bonds actually begin covering the cost of well remediation instead of passing the costs to our communities. We must ensure that our families and homes are no longer imperiled by being near orphaned oil and gas wells.”

About Public Comment Period:

  • Comments on the guidance can be emailed to orphanedwells@ios.doi.gov by 11:59 PM PT on March 30, 2022, and will help inform any changes moving forward.

  • The Department will host two public comment webinars on the guidance, one with an opening presentation focused on industry and labor equities in the guidance on Wednesday, March 23 at 2:00 PM ET and another with an opening presentation focused on environmental justice equities on Thursday, March 24 at 4:00 PM ET.

  • These webinars will be open to the public, pending registration. People wishing to speak at either webinar should register beforehand by 1:00pm ET on March 22. The amount of time for each speaker will depend on the total number of registrants.

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