Shapiro Administration Secures Over $44.4 Million in Additional Federal Funding to Reduce Methane Emissions, Ramp Up Plugging of Oil and Gas Wells

Shapiro Administration plugged more oil and gas wells in 2023 than in the previous eight years combined; new federal funding will allow DEP to continue to expand plugging operations and reduce methane emissions

Harrisburg, PA – This month, the Shapiro Administration received an additional $44,457,220 through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for projects that permanently reduce methane emissions in the Commonwealth. The funds will go towards the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) work to plug hundreds of low-producing oil and gas wells with significant methane emissions, building on the Administration’s record-setting pace plugging abandoned wells in 2023.

Capping and plugging marginal active wells, in addition to orphaned and abandoned wells, improves public health, reduces planet-warming methane emissions, and creates good-paying jobs. That’s why, from Day One of his Administration, Governor Shapiro directed DEP to draw down as much federal funding as possible to cap and plug the orphaned and abandoned wells that dot Pennsylvania. So far, the Shapiro Administration has capped and plugged 137 wells under Governor Shapiro’s leadership – plugging more wells in the Governor’s first 12 months than in the previous eight years combined.

“By focusing on capping and plugging as many orphaned, abandoned, and marginal active wells as possible, my Administration is making real progress towards tackling greenhouse gas emissions here in Pennsylvania and creating thousands of good-paying jobs in the process," said Governor Josh Shapiro. "We must reject the false choice between protecting jobs and protecting our planet. I believe we can do both – we can embrace the Commonwealth’s role as an energy leader, create good-paying jobs, and fulfill our constitutional obligation to protect Pennsylvania’s clean air and pure water. Let’s plug the wells, improve our air quality, and strengthen our communities."

Using this additional funding, DEP is currently creating a voluntary grant program for small operators to properly plug marginally producing wells leaking methane into the air. DEP estimates that over 87,000 conventional oil and gas wells may be initially eligible for this program. 

“DEP is thrilled to secure this funding, which is crucial in our pursuit of significantly reducing methane emissions in our Commonwealth,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “DEP, under the Shapiro Administration, is dedicated to executing projects that work to eliminate greenhouse gases, which are driving climate change. This investment not only accelerates our well-plugging initiatives, but also signifies a shared commitment to a cleaner and healthier future.”

Approximately 65 percent of all owners of marginally producing wells that reported production in 2022 own 10 or fewer conventional wells and may lack the financial resources to properly address leaking wells. A voluntary grant program that provides funding to address wells owned by small operators can prevent abandoned wells, reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, and benefit low-income and vulnerable communities with new jobs in energy communities. 

DEP is currently making plans for community outreach efforts that educate residents about the available funding for these small operators. At least 40 percent of the funds for the Methane Emissions Reduction Program will be directed towards wells located within a half mile of environmental justice communities. DEP is required to allocate this grant funding within a five-year period, ending September 2028.

According to DOE, 30 percent of methane emissions in the U.S. come from the oil and gas sector and is responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today. Making sharp cuts in this greenhouse gas can slow the rate of warming of Earth’s atmosphere.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOE awarded a total of $350 million in formula grant funding to 14 states to help measure and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Pennsylvania is the second-highest award recipient in the U.S. behind Texas. 

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website, or follow DEP on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

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