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Heinrich, Luján, Torres Small Call For New Fund To Clean Up Orphan Oil And Gas Wells, Employ Laid-Off Workers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), are calling for measures to address orphan oil and gas wells in future economic recovery packages. Senator Heinrich and Representatives Luján and Torres Small issued the following statement citing how a new fund that states, tribes, and federal land management agencies can access to plug orphan wells and restore affected lands and waters would employ thousands of laid-off oil and gas workers:

“With recent declines in revenue, hardworking New Mexican oil and gas workers have lost their livelihoods. At the same time, old, decaying wells and environmental damage threaten communities across the country. Orphan wells are idle wells for which the operator is unknown or insolvent. In New Mexico alone, there are over 700 documented orphan oil and gas wells, and as many as 60,000 nationwide. Congress should respond to this challenge with strong funding for states and tribes to address the current backlog of these orphan wells, put thousands back to work plugging them and restoring the land, and protect groundwater and curb hazardous emissions and greenhouse gases.

"As we recover and rebuild in the aftermath of coronavirus crisis, we have an opportunity to rethink how we create a more resilient and healthy economy in New Mexico that doesn’t leave anyone behind."