In Louisiana, the Infrastructure, Investments, and Jobs Act (IIJA) money is being used to cap orphaned oil wells that are polluting critical wildlife habitats and wildlands.

Over 4,600 orphaned wells have been mapped around the state of Louisiana, covering virtually the entire state, and more are expected as the industry is shifting.

Capping and remediating orphaned wells across the country is getting $1 million focus from the IIJA, and national wildlife refuges are the first areas of focus. Five of these refuges are in Louisiana, and they get heavy use by hunters and fisherfolk.

The projects in Louisiana include:

  • 68 wells in the D’Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge near Monroe.
  • 59 wells in Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge along the Arkansas line near Marion.
  • 11 wells in Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Lake Charles.
  • 7 wells in the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge between Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
  • 6 wells in the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Monroe.

Reporters note that some of these wells date back to the 1940s and the owner of record doesn’t exist anymore, meaning that taxpayers hold the bill for the extreme environmental damage for fuel extraction and companies – and their executives – avoid these costs.

This work is expected to employ over 1,000 oil workers full-time for at least a year. It will cut methane emissions by 558 metric tons per year, which equates to cutting yearly greenhouse gas emissions from about 3,000 cars.

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