SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois is planning to plug hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells in rural communities, ultimately sealing off wells no longer capable of producing enough fuel to help the state profit.

Plans call for addressing anywhere from 600 to 800 wells, or up to 20% of abandoned oil and gas wells in Illinois. Funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow the state to pursue such plans.

The U.S. Department of Interior awarded an $560 million to 24 states to begin plugging and remediating more than 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country, including $25 million to help support Illinois’ remediation efforts.

“Orphaned oil and gas wells are environmental and safety hazards that threaten the wellbeing of our rural communities,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “We appreciate that the Biden Administration approved our efforts to award Illinois significant funding to cap and reclaim these wells — safeguarding Illinois families, generating good-paying union jobs, and protecting our environment from disastrous methane leaks in the process. These are the kind of investments that create a healthier, more sustainable state and nation.”

“As chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, I know our rural communities deserve effective solutions that address the unique issues impacting these vibrant regions of Illinois. The federal Orphaned Well Program provides a step forward by taking action on abandoned oil and gas wells that can be hazardous to health and safety,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “From creating economic opportunities to combat pollution to safeguarding the health of communities, this $25 million in grant funding will take us far in protecting the environment and the people that make southern Illinois and other impacted areas so great.

IDNR’s Office of Oil and Gas Resource Management will oversee the work in Illinois. State officials are hopeful the efforts will free up state funds for other needs.

Plugging orphaned wells will help advance the goals of the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, as well as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on spurring economic revitalization in hard-hit energy communities.