Spending bill adds money for well cleanup

Associated PressSeptember 25, 2012 

JUNEAU-- A proposed federal spending bill would increase funding for cleanup of abandoned wells in the Alaska Arctic.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the appropriations committee, announced that $6.5 million is being proposed for the cleanup and remediation of so-called legacy wells. A spokesman says a focus of that funding will be work in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Some 136 wells were drilled under the federal government's direction as part of an exploratory oil and gas program from the 1940s to 1980s. The wells are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

BLM-Alaska has gotten about $1 million a year to manage legacy wells. It has been working with the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to prioritize well-site cleanup. The two sides have differed on which sites are problems.

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