SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Illinois is receiving federal money to plug some of its oil and gas wells no longer in operation.
U.S. Department of Interior officials announced Thursday they are providing 24 states with funding to plug and cap orphaned wells, including $25 million for Illinois. The funding is from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is enabling us to confront long-standing environmental injustices by making a historic investment to plug orphaned wells throughout the country,” Deb Haaland, Secretary of Department of the Interior said. “At the Department of the Interior, we are working on multiple fronts to clean up these sites as quickly as we can by investing in efforts on federal lands and partnering with states and Tribes to leave no community behind.”
Unplugged wells serve as a safety hazard and polluter, as they leak noxious gasses and methane. Methane traps heat in the atmosphere at a rate of 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources knows that plugging these wells will be beneficial to many landowners in the state.
“This investment will help many Illinois landowners by freeing up their ground for more productive farming and recreation, and it will help protect the groundwater from contamination,” Colleen Callahan, IDNR director said. “Rather than having a rusted, inoperable well on their property, this effort will ensure they no longer have to farm around or look at an eyesore on the land.”
Department of Interior estimates that Illinois will plug between 600-800 wells with the funding. IDNR officials estimate there’s more than 4,000 unplugged wells in the state.
Government officials also said plugging the wells will also create jobs.
“From creating economic opportunities to combat pollution to safeguarding the health of communities, this $25 million in grant funding will take us far in protecting the environment and the people that make southern Illinois and other impacted areas so great,” Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton said.