June 01, 2020

Luján: Plugging Orphaned Oil & Gas Wells Is An Opportunity to Put New Mexicans Back to Work

As unemployment continues to rise, Luján highlights reclamation and closure of orphaned wells as a step toward economic recovery

Nambé, N.M. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, participated in a virtual forum to explore the plugging of orphaned oil and gas wells as a way to protect the environment and spur economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Division Director, Adrienne Sandoval, and other witnesses, Congressman Luján discussed how these efforts would safeguard New Mexicans from air pollution and create new, good-paying jobs.

“The public health crisis has tested our communities in countless ways, and workers in the oil and gas industry are no exception. More must still be done to assist workers across our state, and I know [Director Sandoval] will be a continued and committed partner in supporting workers and creating new opportunities. 

“Earlier this Congress, several of us on this video traveled to New Mexico to visit to an oil and gas well with members of the Committee. We were able to use a forward-looking infrared camera that allowed us to see what is typically invisible methane leaking from the site. You can smell it, but you can’t always see it; this camera allowed us to see it. Methane emissions is a problem in my state, and the plugging of abandoned and orphaned wells is a major opportunity to reduce methane pollution, which threatens the health and safety of New Mexicans – and also takes taxpayer money away that is rightfully owed to the people of New Mexico.

“Additionally, this is a great opportunity to put many who have lost their jobs back to work, and in a way that cleans up our lands and waters. I support this effort and appreciate all of your thoughtful consideration of this important issue.”

Video of the forum is available here

Earlier today, Luján joined Senator Martin Heinrich and Representative Xochitl Torres Small in calling for measures to address abandoned oil and gas wells in future economic recovery packages.

Press Contact

Adán Serna (202) 225-6190