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Media Contact:

Justin Wasser, 202.753.7016, jwasser@earthworks.org

Background: On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro marked the 100th orphaned oil and gas well plugged in the first 10 months of his administration at Hillman State Park in Washington County. Orphan wells are major sources of climate and health-hazardous air pollution, and there could be as many as 750,000 scattered across Pennsylvania. Governor Shapiro acknowledged that methane gas is 86x more powerful at warming that climate than CO2 and that cutting methane pollution also means improved health and safety for frontline communities and more jobs across Pennsylvania.

The DEP estimates the cost of plugging one well to be around $68,000. However, complications such as excess debris can cause the cost of plugging these wells to increase up to hundreds of thousands of dollars more. The Shapiro administration has leveraged state resources with millions in federal funding under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to plug these polluting wells.

The Governor also asked the public to participate in helping find orphan and abandoned wells using a new text hotline. A text to 717-788-8990 with a picture of any abandoned oil or gas well and coordinates will submit a request to the administration to plug that abandoned well.

Statement by Earthworks Pennsylvania Policy and Field Advocate Melissa Ostroff:

“Governor Shapiro is tackling Pennsylvania’s oil & gas methane problem in a real way. His administration has plugged more wells in 10 months than have been plugged in the last 6 years. He also acknowledges that the greed of oil & gas company executives must not mean Pennsylvania taxpayers are on the hook for cleaning up industry’s mess. 

 “Governor Shapiro is also right to demand increased bonding for oil & gas operations. Pennsylvania has as many as 750,000 orphaned wells, and that number is growing as hundreds of new wells are abandoned each year. Every hole drilled into the ground becomes a source of forever pollution that will require plugging and re-plugging. Pennsylvania taxpayers cannot and should not have to pay to protect climate and health from industry’s harm.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Shapiro administration and advocate alongside communities for the Governor to use every tool at his disposal to put people before polluters.”