WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., introduced the Plugging Orphan Wells and Environmental Restoration (POWER) Act.

The bill would reauthorize the federal orphan well remediation program under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for five years at $50 million per year.

The POWER Act would also establish a new grant program for environmental restoration and reclamation of orphaned wells on state, as well as private and tribal lands, authorized at $400 million per year for five years. It is estimated that Pennsylvania has more orphan wells than any other state.

“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the modern petroleum industry and the commonwealth’s oil and gas industry has helped lead America to energy independence,” said Thompson. “We have both an economic and environmental responsibility to ensure abandoned wells are plugged. The POWER Act will ensure these legacy sites are appropriately handled in order to protect the environment while also stimulating jobs in the oil and gas sector. This will be a win-win for Pennsylvania.”

Reschenthaler agreed.

“I’m proud to join with Congressman Thompson to introduce the POWER Act, which will provide new economic opportunities for southwestern Pennsylvania’s oil and gas workers who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Reschenthaler. “In Pennsylvania, we already have a skilled and knowledgeable workforce ready to remediate the estimated 200,000 orphaned wells across the state. By providing federal funding to plug these wells, we can support the creation of good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans while addressing environmental and safety hazards in our communities.”

The Pennsylvania Grade Crude Coalition supports the bill as well.

“Plugging orphaned wells is a win for the environment and a win for the conventional oil and gas industry,” said Walter Phillips, board member of the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Coalition. “In a time when our industry is suffering, this legislation will save jobs while also protecting the environment through reducing fugitive methane emissions.”

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