New Bill Would Address Abandoned Wells and Mines in Pennsylvania


Contact:  Jodi Hirsh, jodi@sequalconsulting.com,  (412) 326-9832


Reclamation funding could bring tens of thousands of jobs to a region hit hard by the economic downturn

WASHINGTON, PA — Across the United States, millions of oil and gas wells are no longer in production, but have no party legally or financially responsible for plugging them. These “orphaned” or abandoned wells pose serious risks to public safety and our environment, leaking oil and gas into our water and soil and releasing climate-warming methane into the atmosphere.

Over 8,000 abandoned wells remain in Pennsylvania, and plugging them could cost tens of millions of dollars.

To make matters worse, poverty has persisted for decades in many Appalachian counties with mining damage, disproportionately impacting women, people of color, and young people.

This week, U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells (REGROW) Act of 2021. The bill would provide the funding needed for Pennsylvania to plug orphaned oil and gas wells while creating tens of thousands of new jobs for a region hit hard by the economic downturn.

Said Veronica Coptis, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice,

“For decades, orphaned oil and gas wells have left communities in the Commonwealth with the burden of both the financial and environmental cost of dealing with them. This bill provides the much-needed resources to quickly address this state’s orphaned well crisis while creating hundreds if not thousands of good-paying jobs that can help stimulate many struggling communities.”

This bill comes on the heels of President Biden’s recent American Jobs Plan announcement in Western Pennsylvania, where he proposed a $16 billion investment in cleaning abandoned mines and wells– the most significant federal investment in abandoned mines and orphaned oil and gas wells in recent history.

“It is very encouraging that President Biden recognizes the clear opportunity to create jobs and spur economic development created by reclamation,” continued Coptis. “For too long, Appalachian communities have suffered from a lack of investment and from the serious public health and economic consequences of orphaned gas wells and abandoned mines, but with this historic investment, we are optimistic that a more prosperous future lies ahead. This bill presents an opportunity for both a reemployment plan and an investment in our region’s future.”


  • Veronica Coptis joined the CCJ staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters. Read more about Veronica in a New Yorker Magazine profile at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-future-of-coal-country.

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