mcloudy.png
Sunday May 16th, 2021 3:03PM

Biden plan would spend $16B to clean up old mines, oil wells

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion plan to transform America’s infrastructure includes $16 billion to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines, a longtime priority for Western and rural lawmakers from both parties.

Hundreds of thousands of “orphaned” oil and gas wells and abandoned coal and hardrock mines pose serious safety hazards, while causing ongoing environmental damage. The administration sees the longstanding problem as an opportunity to create jobs and remediate pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Biden said last week he wants to put pipefitters and miners to work capping the wells “at the same price that they would charge to dig those wells.''

Many of the old wells and mines are located in rural communities that have been hard-hit by the pandemic. Biden's plan would not only create jobs, but help reduce methane and brine leaks that pollute the air and groundwater. Methane is a powerful contributor to global warming.

The Interior Department has long led efforts to cap orphaned wells — so named because no owner can be found — but does not assess user fees to cover reclamation costs. Bond requirements for well operators, when known, are often inadequate to cover full clean-up costs.

Biden's plan, which needs approval by Congress, would jump-start the well-capping effort and expand it dramatically.

Similarly, the White House plan would exponentially boost an Abandoned Mine Land program run by Interior that uses fees paid by coal mining companies to reclaim coal mines abandoned before 1977. About $8 billion has been disbursed to states for mine-reclamation projects in the past four decades, but Biden's plan would ramp up spending sharply.

Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has long pushed to expand the mine-lands program, which he calls crucial to his state.

“It cannot be forgotten that West Virginia coal miners powered our country to greatness,'' Manchin said. While many mine lands in coal communities have been reclaimed, “there is still much more work to be done to clean up damage to the land and water in those communities,'' he said.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, ridiculed Biden's overall plan as “an out-of-control socialist spending spree.”

The proposal “starts with the punishing policies of the Green New Deal and builds back worse from there,'' Barrasso said in statement. The plan would hike taxes and “spend trillions of dollars on the left’s radical agenda,'' he added.

A spokeswoman said Barrasso has “has been very active in trying to re-evaluate and improve" the Abandoned Mine Land program. Barrasso is working with Manchin and other committee members to “responsibly reauthorize AML fee collection and facilitate reclamation (of mine sites) across the country,'' spokeswoman Sarah Durdaller said.

Environmental groups hailed the announcement, saying unplugged wells and abandoned mines pose a significant environmental threat. Some former drilling or mining sites have sat unattended for decades.

“From launching a visionary Civilian Climate Corps and reclaiming abandoned mines and orphaned wells to restoring America’s lands, waters, wetlands, grasslands and coasts, the president’s plan proposes strategic investments that will make communities more resilient and healthier,'' said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

An oil industry group said it shares the administration’s goals of safety and environmental stewardship.

“Our industry is fully committed to complying with existing state and federal requirements for abandoned wells" and “will continue to support efforts to plug these wells and further reduce methane emissions,” said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute.

The National Mining Association said it supports the renewed focus on abandoned mine lands, but wanted to see more details. “We’re eager to work with Congress on legislation around the president’s initiative, while bringing reform to the coal AML program and standing up durable, bipartisan solutions on hard-rock'' mining sites, spokesman Conor Bernstein said.

Environmental groups and Democrats have called for stronger bonding requirements for oil and gas companies that drill on public lands, as well as changes to bankruptcy law that make it harder for companies to evade responsibility for cleaning up old sites.

“Investing in orphan well clean-up would create good-paying jobs while helping reduce pollution, restore habitat and protect our climate,'' said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who has introduced legislation to clean up federal sites and strengthen bond requirements for drilling on public lands.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Biden to hold first Cabinet meeting amid infrastructure push
Joe Biden's first Cabinet meeting of his presidency will be used to promote his new infrastructure plan
12:12AM ( 9 minutes ago )
It's cherry blossom season, but DC isn't ready to open up
Officials in the nation’s capital are watching the crowds as cherry blossom season begins in earnest
12:10AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Biden plan would spend $16B to clean up old mines, oil wells
President Joe Biden’s plan to transform America’s infrastructure includes $16 billion to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines
12:08AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden announces huge infrastructure plan to 'win the future'
President Joe Biden has outlined a huge $2.3 trillion plan to reengineer the nation’s infrastructure over the next eight years
10:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
EXPLAINER: Questions remain about conditions of migrant kids
The Biden administration, under pressure to be more transparent, opened its main holding center for migrant children in Donna, Texas, to journalists for the first time this week
9:23PM ( 2 hours ago )
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine batch fails quality check
Johnson & Johnson says a batch of its COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used
8:58PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
No prison time for transgender ex-neo-Nazi in threat case
A federal judge declined to impose prison time on a member of a neo-Nazi ring that threatened journalists
5:55PM ( 6 hours ago )
Scientists: Grizzlies expand turf but still need protection
Grizzly bears are slowly expanding the turf they roam in the northern Rocky Mountains but scientists say they need continued protections, They have also concluded that no other areas of the country would be suitable for the fearsome animals
5:32PM ( 6 hours ago )
2 views of Floyd onlookers: Desperate to help, or angry mob
To the prosecution, the witnesses who watched George Floyd’s body go still were regular people going about their daily lives when they happened upon the ghastly scene of an officer kneeling on a man’s neck
4:40PM ( 7 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
New GOP-led voting restrictions head to key vote in Texas
Texas Republicans are setting out to begin passing sweeping new voting restrictions in America's biggest red state
11:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
Iowa Democrat drops bid for House seat she lost by 6 votes
A defeated Democrat has abruptly dropped her bid to overturn her six-vote loss for a House seat from Iowa, abandoning what loomed as a long legal and political battle in the face of shaky support from her own party
7:46PM ( 4 hours ago )
Dems aim for July vote as Congress digs in on infrastructure
Even before President Joe Biden unveiled his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, congressional committees were laying the groundwork for a major public works investment
6:52PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Kansas City district resumes in-person classes
Students lined up outside schools in Kansas City, Kansas, for the first time in more than a year as in-person classes resumed in one of the last districts in the state still learning mostly virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic
4:25PM ( 7 hours ago )
Eager to build infrastructure, Biden plans to tax business
President Joe Biden wants $2 trillion to reengineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it
3:23PM ( 8 hours ago )
Microsoft wins $22 billion deal making headsets for US Army
Microsoft says it has won a nearly $22 billion contract to supply U.S. Army combat troops with its virtual reality headsets
3:20PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Bank of Japan 'tankan' survey upbeat over economic recovery
A closely watched economic survey by the Bank of Japan shows growing optimism over the outlook for the world's third-largest economy
11:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: 6 more COVID cases found in local China outbreak
Health officials in China say six more people have become ill with COVID-19 in a southwestern Chinese city on the border with Myanmar
10:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
Bank of Japan survey more optimism over economic recovery
Business sentiment is growing optimistic, according to a closely watched economic survey by the Bank of Japan
10:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
France to close schools, ban domestic travel as virus surges
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a three-week nationwide school closure and a month-long domestic travel ban as the rapid spread of the virus ramped up pressure on hospitals
3:57PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: France orders school closure, travel ban
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a three-week nationwide school closure and a one month domestic travel ban to fight the spread of the coronavirus
3:17PM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: Coronavirus pushed US deaths past 3.3M last year
A new report says U.S. deaths last year topped 3.3 million for the nation’s highest annual death toll,  including about 375,000 deaths from the coronavirus
2:04PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Hunter Biden says he wouldn't repeat work for Ukrainian firm
President Joe Biden's son Hunter says his service on the board of a Ukrainian gas company wasn't unethical and didn't amount to a lack of judgment on his part
6:42AM ( 17 hours ago )
GOP lawmakers take aim at Arizona renewable energy standards
As states across the U.S. West beef up their renewable energy mandates, a push to do so in Arizona has been met by fierce resistance from the Republican governor and GOP-dominated Legislature
12:27PM ( 1 day ago )
Probe underway, day after cargo ship freed in Suez Canal
Experts have boarded a colossal container ship that had been stuck sideways for nearly a week in the Suez Canal before it was dislodged
2:15AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Biden to hold first Cabinet meeting amid infrastructure push
Joe Biden's first Cabinet meeting of his presidency will be used to promote his new infrastructure plan
12:12AM ( 10 minutes ago )
It's cherry blossom season, but DC isn't ready to open up
Officials in the nation’s capital are watching the crowds as cherry blossom season begins in earnest
12:10AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Bank of Japan 'tankan' survey upbeat over economic recovery
A closely watched economic survey by the Bank of Japan shows growing optimism over the outlook for the world's third-largest economy
12:05AM ( 17 minutes ago )
California office building shooting kills 4, including child
Police say a shooting at a Southern California office building has killed four people, including a child, and the suspected shooter was wounded by police
11:59PM ( 23 minutes ago )
AP source: Lindor, Mets agree to $341 million, 10-year deal
Francisco Lindor and the New York Mets have agreed to a $341 million, 10-year deal
11:46PM ( 36 minutes ago )