U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar Ph.D. (TX-28) and the Department of Interior have jointly announced nearly $80 million in federal funding for orphan well plugging and site mediation in Texas. The funds, provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and administered by the Texas Railroad Commission, aim to address environmental and health concerns related to abandoned oil and gas wells.
Dr. Cuellar emphasized the firsthand impact of abandoned wells on air and drinking water for ranchers and farmers in his district. The federal funds are expected to play a crucial role in Texas's efforts to plug orphaned wells, creating thousands of jobs in the process. The IIJA, passed in 2021, is contributing over $320 million to Texas for orphaned well plugging and maintenance.
As part of the grant, Texas will monitor methane emissions from plugged orphan wells, assess effects on ground and surface water, and prioritize plugging wells in low-income areas. The initiative has already made progress, with federal funds from the IIJA successfully plugging 27 abandoned oil and gas wells in Duval, Starr, Webb, and Zapata counties.
The IIJA allocated $4.7 billion for orphaned well site plugging across federal, state, private, and Tribal lands. The funds are directed to the Texas Railroad Commission's existing state-managed plugging program, with expectations of generating thousands of good-paying jobs in Texas.