Murkowski Secures $50 Million For Legacy Well Clean Up

Legislation that passed Congress today will allocate $50 million to clean up the 130 oil and gas wells that were drilled and abandoned by the federal government in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.

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Senator Lisa Murkowski helped negotiate the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, which is expected to generate around $500 million in revenue over the next 10 years. Within the measure, she was able to insert language that guaranteed a portion of the money from the helium reserve sale would go toward the clean up.

Murkowski says it’s an important step toward closing up the legacy wells.

“That’s huge for us; that is absolutely huge because you can assign priorities and say it’s important that we clean it up, but until you have the dollars to make it happen, it doesn’t happen,” Murkowski said. “The administration has been tough to deal with on this, so I worked very, very hard to make sure that with the revenues from the helium sale, we could address this blight on our environment up north.”

The $50 million will be distributed over the next six years.

Because many federal priorities are competing for a decreasing amount of funds, Murkowski says previously, she was only able to find small amounts of money for the clean up.

“When you just ran the numbers from a very general perspective, it was gonna be 100+ years to get through this, which was absolutely not an acceptable approach,” she said.

Even though the $50 million won’t be enough to clean up all the wells, Murkowski says it should be enough to start making a dent.

President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law.

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Josh is the web producer for alaskapublic.org.

He has been a part of the web team since his internship during the summer of 2010.

Besides maintaining the website, he also reports for the Alaska Public Radio Network, gives occasional live news updates on KSKA 91.1FM during All Things Considered, runs camera and directs programs for Alaska Public Television, and has taken numerous photos and videos that appear on alaskapublic.org.

Prior to graduating from the Journalism and Public Communications Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage in December 2010, Josh worked at The Northern Light student newspaper where he and his staff won two Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Awards.

He has also been an adjunct instructor for the JPC department at UAA.

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Josh enjoys being outdoors, so when isn’t at work, you can usually find him out fishing, camping, hunting, four-wheeling, or snowmachining.

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