89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tribes get $40 million from the infrastructure law to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells

Strange Happenings

The Department of the Interior announced on Thursday that it will invest nearly $40 million to help Native American tribes clean up and plug orphaned oil and gas wells across Indian Country to help reduce harmful pollutants.

The funds come from the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation that passed last year, and will go to 10 tribal nations across the country including the Navajo Nation.

Officials say the money will combat pollution by assessing and remediating abandoned oil and gas wells that spread environmental hazards such as methane leaks that contaminate groundwater and harm wildlife.

The money will provide employment opportunities, and training support for tribal members.

Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs says Indigenous communities will be part of the process.

“We're working with tribes directly every step of the way to ensure that their voices are considered at the beginning of the decision making process and every step throughout,” he said.

The bipartisan infrastructure law has provided $13 billion to tribal communities to provide high speed internet, safer roads and bridges, clean drinking water, electricity and providing wastewater and sanitation systems.

Winnie Stachelberg, senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator with the Interior Department, says she’s optimistic about the potential impact of this investment.

“We're so grateful for the resources that will help us address these hazards sites, advance environmental justice and create jobs and provide economic revitalization across Indian country,” she said.

The Interior Department will announce more funding for cleaning up abandoned wells in the future.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s currently a part of the Local News Fund Fellowship where she will be working with KUNM-FM and NMPBS during her 9-month fellowship where she will gain hands-on newsroom experience. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
Related Content