New York state will receive $25 million in federal funding to cap what are expected to be thousands of abandoned and unused oil and gas wells, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Monday said.
The money is being made available through the federal infrastructure law and meant to prevent the further emissions of methane from the wells.
Capping the wells is considered key toward reaching goals laid out in a law meant to reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades. By 2040, New York will require zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040 and 70% renewable energy generation by 2030.
"By locating, assessing, and plugging these decades-old oil and gas wells, we are making major contributions towards reducing air pollution that significantly contributes to climate change by preventing them from leaking methane into the environment," Hochul said. "Methane represents almost 10 percent of the state's annual greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing it is a key piece of New York's commitment to confronting the existential threat of climate change head on. I thank the New York Congressional Delegation for including this effort in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and look forward to putting these funds to good use."
Over the last nine years, New York has capped 400 unused oil and gas wells. Much of the old oil and gas infrastructure dates back more than a century. It's anticipated there are thousands of wells that are yet to be capped. Starting in 2020, state officials began using drone technology to map and locate the wells.
"DEC looks forward to expanding our progress in plugging orphaned oil and gas wells for the benefit of the environment and public safety," said Basil Seggos, the Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner. "I applaud the federal government for coming together on this bipartisan agreement to reduce risks abandoned wells present to surface and groundwater. Unplugged wells also emit methane, a known contributor to climate change. These funds will help us to continue our work to achieve New York's ambitious climate goals."