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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) delivered remarks before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Public Lands, Forests, & Mining Subcommittee today, where he testified in favor of the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells (REGROW) Act, his bipartisan bill with Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to plug and remediate the nation’s orphaned wells. The senator began by highlighting how the recent job losses in the energy industry have created an appropriate opportunity for Congress to act.

“Global energy oversupply resulting from decreased demand due to the pandemic caused major job losses in the oil and gas industry last year,” began Senator Cramer. “In energy-producing states like North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas, highly-skilled energy workers were laid off as production slowed. That combination of orphaned wells which need to be plugged and unemployed workers who need a job is what brings us to the REGROW Act.”

The senator noted the leadership of North Dakota, which has not historically had a significant problem in this area, but was able to use its COVID-19 relief package funds last year to plug several abandoned wells.

“The language in the bill actually builds on North Dakota’s leadership on this issue,” continued Senator Cramer. “After Congress passed the CARES Act last year, North Dakota dedicated $66 million dollars of its state funding to plug abandoned wells. I applaud my state’s foresight and the real work it has already accomplished on the ground plugging these wells and remediating the land. These efforts have provided an example the federal government can emulate, and I welcome any opportunity to make Washington look a little more like North Dakota, rather than the other way around.”

Senator Cramer concluded by highlighting the broad support the bill has received and expressing a desire to secure its passage.

“I have been in Congress long enough to recognize how rare it is for a proposal to be balanced enough to garner the support of the regulatory, industrial, and environmental communities. But that is exactly what the REGROW Act has done,” concluded Senator Cramer. “That should not go unnoticed as we seek to build consensus and deliver results for the American people. Thank you, again, for holding this hearing. I look forward to the feedback on how we can improve the bill and work toward passing it.”

Senators Cramer and Luján introduced the REGROW Act in April, with Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) introducingits House companion in June. If passed, the bill would provide:  

  • $4.275 billion for orphaned well cleanup on state and private lands;
  • $400 million for orphaned well cleanup on public and tribal lands;
  • $32 million for related research, development, and implementation.

Earlier this week, the senators highlighted the support the bill has received from governors across the country. Learn more here.

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