A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Energy Report

Reducing Methane Emissions from Wells Could Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs

By Grace Ficara

Tens of thousands of jobs would be needed across four states to decommission unplugged oil and gas wells, and to reduce emissions at operating wells in accordance with new federal guidelines, according to a February report from Ohio River Valley Institute, a think tank.

In December 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas wells into the atmosphere. The agency has described methane as being “more potent than carbon dioxide and responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gasses occurring today.”

Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia would collectively require between 13,005 and 15,530 direct jobs to help reduce methane emissions in accordance with the new rules. Between 7,793 and 9,714 of these jobs would be temporary, while the others would be permanent.

The report also looks at decommissioning wells in the four-state area that are no longer in use but continue to leak into the air and earth. This involves plugging the well and remediating the site and contaminated areas.

Decommissioning the 64,607 documented orphaned wells — wells without a known or solvent operator — would support approximately 11,600 job years. Decommissioning all estimated unplugged wells in the region over the next few decades would create up to 157,000 direct job years.

These efforts would also create indirect jobs through the purchasing of goods and services, as well as the economic boost from employee pay.

The federal government has allotted approximately $6 billion to decommission orphaned oil and gas wells and reduce methane emissions from low-producing wells.

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2024 — Spring

2024 — Spring

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