Governor Shapiro Gets Stuff Done: Shapiro Administration Plugs More Than 130 Orphaned & Abandoned Wells in Just 11 Months, Surpassing the Total Over the Previous Eight Years Combined

Under Governor Shapiro’s leadership and harnessing historic federal funding, the PA Department of Environmental Protection has dramatically ramped up capping and plugging, reducing methane emissions, improving public health, and creating jobs in Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg, PA – Bringing an unprecedented focus to well-capping efforts and leveraging millions in historic federal funding, the Shapiro Administration has capped and plugged 132 wells under Governor Shapiro’s leadership – plugging more wells in the Governor’s first 11 months than in the previous eight years combined.

Capping and plugging 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 the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to draw down as much federal funding as possible to cap and plug the orphaned and abandoned wells that dot Pennsylvania.

“By focusing on capping and plugging these wells, my Administration is making real progress towards tackling greenhouse gas emissions here in Pennsylvania and creating thousands of good-paying, union 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.”

DEP has allocated unprecedented resources to plug orphaned and abandoned wells, which has allowed Pennsylvania to leverage millions in federal funding under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law by President Biden. The efforts to leverage the federal IIJA funding began under the previous administration, which received the administrative funds allocation from the IIJA and put Pennsylvania on track to cap and plug as many wells as possible.

In October, the Shapiro Administration plugged the 100th well at Hillman State Park under an emergency contract with Yost Drilling after DEP followed up on reports from local residents concerned about the risks abandoned wells pose to public health and safety.

Thanks to the IIJA and the Wolf Administration’s efforts, Pennsylvania is poised to receive more than $400 million in the coming years to cap and plug wells across the Commonwealth. This has already led to a dozen additional DEP staff specifically working on wells in Western Pennsylvania alone.

Through IIJA funding and existing state funding for DEP, the Commonwealth is moving to tackle this massive contributor of greenhouse gasses.

More than 350,000 orphaned wells across our Commonwealth make up nearly 8% of our total methane emissions. Methane is particularly dangerous because it is up to 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide – warming our planet and contributing to air pollution that damages our lungs and our hearts. 

Because many wells in Pennsylvania were drilled before modern mapping and regulations, DEP only had locations for about 30,000 wells, a fraction of the estimated 350,000 orphaned wells. For too long, the Commonwealth had inadequate resources to address the problem.

DEP has been using the funding provided by the IIJA to inspect and inventory more orphaned and abandoned wells, and to implement a new enforcement strategy. DEP is aggressively going after operators who are walking away from wells and stepping in with emergency plugging contracts where needed to protect public health.

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