Summer Lee to Visit Abandoned Wells in Westmoreland County with PA DEP, Highlighting Push for Infrastructure Act Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Remediation, Research and Development Act 

Mar 26, 2024
Press

For Planning Purposes 

Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov

Summer Lee to Visit Abandoned Wells in Westmoreland County with PA DEP, Highlighting Push for Infrastructure Act Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Remediation, Research and Development Act 

Lee’s bill was passed through the science, space, and technology committee on a unanimous, bipartisan basis and awaits vote by the full house 

[Press RSVP Here]

Pittsburgh, PA — On Thursday, March 28 at 10 am in Murrysville, Congresswoman  Summer Lee (PA-12) and leaders from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will visit the site of abandoned wells to highlight Lee’s work in partnership with the Shapiro administration to deliver federal investment and legislative action to protect Western Pennsylvanians’ health, property, and tax dollars from orphaned wells.   This comes after Rep. Lee introduced and passed the Bipartisan Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act through the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee with a unanimous bipartisan vote 

WHO: 

  • Rep. Summer Lee
  • Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Energy
  • Community Storytellers

WHAT: A tour/walkthrough of an abandoned well, with a discussion on ongoing efforts to remediate them, and additional needs to ensure every abandoned well in  in Pennsylvania is identified and plugged.

WHEN

March 28th, 2024 – 10 am

WHERE: Home of Pamela and Ivan Schrank, 4017 Benden Circle, Murrysville, PA 15668

RSVP: Press RSVP Here

Background: 

The problem facing Western Pennsylvanians: 

  • Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection says there are tens of thousands of abandoned gas wells and oil wells documented across the state — and there may be 13 times that many for which there are no records.
  • Federal money helped Pennsylvania plug 139 abandoned oil and gas wells last year. That’s more than in the eight years before that. Despite the state awarding more than $23 million in contracts to plug those wells in 2023, the number of abandoned wells continues to grow.
  • DEP estimates that there are 27,000 abandoned wells for which they have locations to plug. They estimate an approximately 350,000 additional undocumented abandoned wells exist all across Pennsylvania. 
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that methane emissions from over 2 million inactive, unplugged wells, of which documented orphan wells are a subset, range from a CO2 equivalent of 7-20 million metric tons per year (approximately the emissions of 2 to 5 million cars).
  • Methane emissions from oil and gas wells – some of which date back as early as the 1850s including orphan wells, remains a significant driver of short-term climate change. [EDF] At least 25% of today’s warming is driven by methane emissions from human activities.
  • EDF has also calculated that approximately 14 million Americans live within a mile of a documented orphan well, which has no solvent owner of record, can leak oil, gas and other toxic chemicals into our air and water.
  • In addition to methane, abandoned wells release carcinogens and other toxic air contaminants spewing from millions of wells that are no longer even operating. In a study in the journal ACS Omega, researchers have reported the discovery of harmful cancer-causing benzene and other toxic gases leaking from 48 abandoned wells in Western Pennsylvania
  • Abandoned wells also lower property values and land productivity, with one study in Pennsylvania showing a 50% drop-off in building development in areas with high orphan well concentration.
  • The health and economic impact of abandoned wells fall disproportionately on low income and minority communities – impacting Black and brown communities at twice the rate

Solutions Congresswoman Lee is working to deliver:

Throughout her first term in office Lee has been pushing to expedite federal funding under the Infrastructure and Jobs Act to go to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s work plugging abandoned wells in Western PA. This map shows a total of 120,000 documented orphan wells across 30 states that are eligible for closure funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. 

In July, Rep. Lee introduced the Bipartisan Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act with Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK-12) to address the impact of methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells. 

Her bill passed through the Committee on Science, Space and Technology in September on a bipartisan unanimous basis. It now awaits a a vote by the full House.  

  • Lee’s bill addresses challenges around the difficulty of the plugging and remediation process – from locating undocumented wells, minimal understanding of methane emission rates, and cost barriers. Lee’s bill will amend the Energy Act of 2005 to create an abandoned wells research, development, and demonstration program at the Department of Energy (DOE) with respect to abandoned wells. It directs the Secretary of DOE to create and carry out this program to focus on a range of key technology areas to better identify abandoned wells, understand methane emission rates, low carbon lightweight cement, technology to improve remote plugging, ways to repurpose wells for geothermal power and technology to understand impacts of abandoned wells on groundwater.
  • Congresswoman Lee said, “Where I grew up in Braddock, our air is already so dirty that we have some of the highest rates of pollution causing childhood asthma and respiratory illnesses in this country. Folks in communities left behind like Western PA simply cannot afford toxic methane from abandoned oil and gas wells leaking into our air and water–yet oil and gas companies are abandoning wells far, far faster than we’re able to plug or even identify them. On top of the harm to the health of our loved ones, abandoned wells, which just so happen to impact Black and brown communities at twice the rate, also mean lower property values and land productivity, with one study in Pennsylvania showing a 50% drop-off in building development in areas with high concentrations of abandoned wells. I’m proud to introduce the ‘Bipartisan Abandoned Well R&D Act’ to protect our communities from abandoned oil and gas wells by creating a new research, development, and demonstration program at the Department of Energy.”

In December, Rep. Lee announced announced $44,457,220 in federal funding to support industry efforts to cut methane emissions from wells and support environmental restoration of well sites

  • Rep. Lee said “I’m so proud to deliver over $44M in funding to cut methane emissions in my district. In regions like Western Pennsylvania, where the legacy of oil and gas extraction is deeply felt, this investment is not just about reducing emissions; it’s about justice and health for our communities. This funding will accelerate efforts to measure, monitor, and mitigate methane from nonfederal wells, which is crucial for protecting both the environment and public health. As we’ve seen in our communities, unchecked methane emissions contribute to climate change and pose serious health risks, especially in marginalized areas. This is a big step towards correcting historical neglect and ensuring a cleaner, healthier future for all.”
  • Ryan Peay, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Resource Sustainability in DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management said, “Investing in projects and programs that significantly reduce methane emissions is an important priority to slow the harmful effects of climate change. The grants awarded today facilitate critical partnerships between states and the oil and gas sector, addressing a key source of these emissions while generating substantial climate, health, and economic benefits for local communities nationwide.”

Resources:

Press RSVP Here

###

Recent Posts


Apr 11, 2024
Press

Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall

For Immediate Release  April 11, 2024  Contact  Natalie Adams (Casey): 202-228-3789 Charlie Hills (Fetterman): 202-228-6099  Emilia Rowland (Lee): 330-212-2065   Zoe Bluffstone (Deluzio): 771-444-0316  Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall Additional funding follows recent flooding that closed the critical route The Members secured $142.34 million for the […]



Apr 9, 2024
Press

Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development PITTSBURGH, PA — Today, Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a letter with 35 colleagues to […]



Mar 28, 2024
Press

Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation 

For Immediate Release  Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation  Lee’s bill was passed through the Science, Space, and Technology Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan basis and awaits a vote by the full House  Pittsburgh, PA — Today, Congresswoman  […]