Biden’s plan is to spend $ 16 billion on cleaning old mines and wells.

Washington (AP) — President Joe Biden $ 2.3 trillion plan to transform US infrastructure This includes $ 16 billion to block old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned wells. This has long been a priority for Western and local legislators of both parties.

Hundreds of thousands of “isolated” oil and gas wells, abandoned coal and hard rock mines pose serious safety problems and cause ongoing environmental damage. The government sees the long-standing problem as an opportunity to create jobs and improve pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Mr Biden said last week he wanted plumbers and miners to work on well lids “at the same price as they would charge to dig those wells.”

Many of the old wells and mines are located in pandemic-affected rural areas. Biden’s plans not only create jobs, but also help reduce methane and saltwater leaks that pollute air and groundwater. Methane is a powerful cause of global warming.

The Home Office has long led efforts to limit isolated wells — so named because no owners can be found — but has not assessed user fees to cover landfill costs. .. Well operator deposit requirements are often inadequate to cover full cleanup costs, if known.

Biden’s plans, which require parliamentary approval, will rush to start a sufficient cap effort and expand it dramatically.

Similarly, the White House plan exponentially boosts the abandoned mining and land program run by Interior using fees paid by miners to recover mines abandoned before 1977. I will. Approximately $ 8 billion has been paid to the state for mining projects in the last four years for decades, but Biden’s plans will increase spending sharply.

Senator Joe Manchin of the Democratic Party of West Virginia, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Commission, has long promoted the expansion of the mining and land program, which he calls extremely important to the state.

“We can’t forget that the West Virginia miners have given us a lot of power,” Manchin said. Although the land of many mines in the coal community has been reclaimed, “there is still much work to be done to clear the land and water damage in those communities,” he said.

Senator John Barrasso, a top Republican member of the Senate Energy Commission, ridiculed Biden’s overall plan as “out of control socialist spending.”

In a statement, Barasso said the proposal “starts with the Green New Deal penalties and gets worse from there.” The plan will raise taxes and “spend trillions of dollars on the radical leftist agenda,” he added.

A spokeswoman said Barasso “has been very active in reassessing and improving the abandoned mine program.” Barasso said in collaboration with Manchin and other members of the committee that he “responsibly re-approves the collection of AML fees and promotes rehabilitation (of the mining site).” The country. “

Environmental groups welcomed the announcement, saying that unplugged wells and abandoned mines pose a serious environmental threat. Some previous drilling or mining sites have been sitting unattended for decades.

“From launching visionary Civilian Climate Corps to regaining abandoned mines and isolated wells to restoring American lands, waters, wetlands, grasslands and coasts, the president’s plans make the community more resilient. We are proposing strategic investments to improve our health, “says Colin Omara. , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation.

The oil industry group said it shares the government’s goals of safety and environmental management.

Frank Maquia Laura, Senior Vice President of the American Petroleum Institute, said:

The National Mining Association said it would support a new focus on abandoned mining, but wanted to know more. “We want to work with Congress on the president’s initiative legislation while reforming the coal AML program and developing durable bipartisan solutions at hard rock mining sites,” said a spokesman. Connor Bernstein said.

Environmental groups and Democrats are calling for stronger binding requirements for oil and gas companies drilling public land and changes in bankruptcy legislation that make it difficult for companies to avoid their responsibilities to clean old sites.

“Investing in orphan well cleanup will create high-paying jobs while reducing pollution, restoring habitats and protecting our climate,” purifying and strengthening federal sites. Said Senator Michael Bennett, who introduced the law to do so. Deposit requirements for excavation on public land.