Oklahoma tribes get $25 million to plug abandoned wells


An estimated $25 million has been awarded Oklahoma Indian tribes by the U.S. Department of Interior for cleanup and plugging of abandoned oil and gas wells.

The Interior Department indicated the funding for the Osage Nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation was part of nearly $40 million in a first phase of funding through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help Tribal communities plug and remediate orphanied oil and gas wells across Indian Country.

“Indigenous communities have long been disproportionately burdened by environmental pollution,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are investing in Indian Country.

The list of recipients shows the Osage Nation is one of the largest recipients at $19,100,414 to plug an estimated 290 wells. The Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma will receive $4,735,765 wells to assess 48 wells to be plugged.

Tribe or Nation

Estimated Wells Assessed*

Estimated Wells Plugged**

Grant Award Amount

Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation




The Chickasaw Nation



Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation



Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana



Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma



The Muscogee (Creek) Nation



Navajo Nation



Osage Nation



Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians



Southern Ute Indian Tribe







*Assessed = Pre-plugging activities such as discovery, identification, inventory, and assessment

**Plugged = Well will be plugged to relevant applicable standard

The announcement is part of an overall $150 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in Tribal Nations’ capacity to catalyze economic growth and revitalization, improve public safety, and reduce harmful methane leaks.

The Interior Department said the legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment and harming wildlife. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Plugging orphaned wells will help advance the goals of the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.

The funding announced is in addition to $560 million in orphaned well grant funding that was provided to states in August 2022, and nearly $100 million in funding that is going towards addressing orphaned wells on public lands and waters.