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Environmental Management Assistance Program

Federal Funding Opportunity for Well Plugging in Pennsylvania

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The federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has introduced new authorities under Section 136 of the Clean Air Act, through the creation of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP). Designed to curb methane emissions from the petroleum and natural gas sector, MERP is a pivotal initiative with nationwide impact. It allocates over $1 billion in financial resources, presenting a unique opportunity for Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Share of the Funding

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will receive more than $44 million from this federal funding pool. A portion of this allocation will be dedicated to grants for conventional well operators. Specifically, these grants aim to plug marginal conventional wells—an important step toward environmental stewardship and regulatory compliance.

Understanding Marginal Conventional Wells

An MCW (marginal conventional well) is characterized as a conventional vertical or slightly deviated oil and/or natural gas well. These wells operate under known operators and produce up to 15 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOED) and/or 90 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of gas per day (1 BOE = 6 Mcf) over the prior 12-month period. Most conventional wells, provided production data has been reported to the DEP, fall within this definition.

Eligibility Criteria and Compliance Requirements

To access this funding, operators must adhere to statutory and regulatory obligations. Compliance includes timely submission of well production, waste, and mechanical integrity assessment reports to the DEP. The Office of Oil and Gas Management maintains a site on submission guidance for these reports.

Non-compliance exposes small operators to enforcement actions, including civil penalties. If you are interested in securing this funding and currently face compliance gaps, prioritize submitting the necessary information to the DEP promptly.

Limited Grant Funding

Grant funding availability is finite. As soon as the application process opens, small conventional well operators should act quickly.

For ongoing updates, monitor DEP’s MERP webpage.

Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.