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Media Contact:

Alan Septoff, 202.888.7844, aseptoff@earthworks.org

“President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is an environmental and climate initiative, too. Cleaning up abandoned mines and orphaned oil and gas wells creates jobs by cleaning our water and climate.

But the $16 billion proposed must only be a down payment. We need a comprehensive plan, with comprehensive funding, to manage the decline of fossil fuels and strengthen our outdated mining safeguards.” — Lauren Pagel, Earthworks Policy Director


Today President Biden is announcing his Build Back Better jobs and infrastructure plan, a summary of which has been made public. It calls for “an immediate up-front investment of $16 billion that will put hundreds of thousands to work in union jobs plugging oil and gas wells and restoring and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines”

This would be the most significant federal initiative to address abandoned/orphaned wells & mines in recent memory. EPA estimates that it will cost $50 billion or more to clean up the hundreds of thousands hardrock mines alone — for which there is currently no funding source. EPA tells us that these mines have contributed to the pollution of 40% of the headwaters of western watersheds.

It would also be the first significant federal attempt in recent memory to address abandoned/orphaned oil & gas wells leaking methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.