Feds to plug dozens of old, leaky oil wells in Louisiana wildlife havens

Many of Louisiana’s most prized and protected natural landscapes are dotted with the leaking, rusty remnants of the oil industry’s boom years, reports NOLA.com.

A federally-funded program is beginning work this week to plug about 150 of these ‘orphan’ oil and gas wells in five national wildlife refuges in Louisiana. The work is funded with $12.7 million from last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a massive bipartisan law that’s putting $1.2 trillion into roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure.

Orphan wells often leak oil and emit methane, a pollutant that harms air quality and contributes to climate change. The wells’ impact can be slow, with small amounts of oil seeping into waterways and marshes over many years, or they can be sudden and potentially devastating if struck by a hurricane.

Louisiana has documented more than 4,600 such wells. Sites are classified as “orphaned” when wells are no longer used and their operators have gone bankrupt, can’t be located, or are unable or unwilling to maintain their sites. Read the entire story.