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Tribal nations in Oklahoma receive federal funds to plug orphaned oil and gas wells

Abandoned, rusty well equipment in a shrubby desert area.
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior is investing almost $40 million to plug and clean up abandoned oil and gas wells in tribal communities across the country.

More than half of that money, which comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is going to tribes in Oklahoma. Here's how it breaks down:

  • Osage Nation:  $19,100,414 to plug 290 wells
  • Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma: $4,735,765 to plug 48 wells
  • Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, $4,642,620 to plug 48 wells
  • Muscogee Nation: $997,662 to assess 166 wells
  • Chickasaw Nation: $86,253 to assess 5 wells

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said the unplugged wells jeopardize public health and the environment by contaminating groundwater, emitting methane and leaving dangerous equipment sitting idle.

Indigenous communities have long been disproportionately burdened by orphaned oil and gas wells left behind by extractive industries,” Newland said.

He also said the Department of the Interior will offer further funding opportunities to address orphaned wells in tribal communities.

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Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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