House Passes Bill to Locate Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells

AWRRDA Passed with Broad, Bipartisan Support

April 30, 2024
Austin Matheny-Kawesch, (858) 395-5577,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House of Representatives passed the Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act (AWRRDA) 333 to 75. The bipartisan bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to also receive bipartisan support.

“Orphaned oil and gas wells threaten public health and safety, the water we drink and the climate,” said Environmental Defense Fund director and senior attorney for energy transition Adam Peltz. “This essential bipartisan bill will fund the research necessary to improve well plugging practices, find unregistered orphan wells in hard-to-reach places like streams, forests, farmland and backyards, and develop beneficial clean energy uses for end-of-life wells. This bill will create jobs and benefit public health, particularly for communities overburdened by legacy oil and gas development – and now the Senate should take up this bill so that President Biden can sign it into law.”

This important bipartisan legislation would invest more than $150 million over the next five years to help find an estimated 800,000 undocumented orphan wells, reuse those we can for beneficial purposes and ultimately close the rest more effectively and affordably.

AWRRDA provides funding to research how to improve well plugging, locate undocumented orphan wells and study potential uses for both orphan and end-of-life wells. While responsible well operators promptly plug their oil and gas wells when they run dry, many orphan wells have been improperly abandoned for decades or more. Hard-to-reach locations coupled with unknown well architecture, crumbling steel casings and unexpected objects downhole like telephone poles, rolled up carpets and even cannon balls make orphan well plugging especially challenging.

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