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New Mexico groups support bill to fund oil and gas well plugging

Democrats fight in Congress for more federal funding to plug abandoned oil and gas wells and reform leasing policy took the form this week of legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado that New Mexico environmentalists argued was needed to ensure wells are cleaned up by the energy companies that drill for fossil fuels.

While U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells (REGROW) Act earlier this year to unlock federal funding for well plugging across the U.S., his party member U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico later introduced a bill that would fund the work but also raise bonding rates energy companies pay when wells are approved.

Funds from the bonding payments are used to pay for plugging wells and remediating the land should a company abandon the well.