For Immediate Release: Biden Administration Initiative Allocates Vital Resources to Address Legacy Pollution


Melvin J. Baker, Chairman – 970.563.2320

Summer Begay, Communication Specialist– 970.563.2313


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2023

Biden Administration Initiative Allocates Vital Resources to Address Legacy Pollution

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – The Department of the Interior has announced an initial allocation of nearly $40 million as part of President Biden’s “Investing in America” initiative. This substantial funding represents the first phase of a comprehensive effort to support Tribal communities in addressing abandoned oil and gas wells across Indian Country. The primary goals of this investment include advocating for Tribal land rights, promoting economic opportunities, addressing legacy pollution, and mitigating environmental hazards.

The Southern Ute Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the Tribe’s Contracts and Grants Department, applied for a grant under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Section 40601 Orphaned Well Program from the Department of Interior. Their grant application was specifically tailored to secure funds for conducting technical and field investigations into legacy plugged and abandoned wells, ensuring their integrity and long-term environmental protection. Andy Wetherell, Energy Manager at the Southern Ute Department of Energy, said, “the team is appreciative of Tribal Council’s support and the collaboration with the Tribe’s Contracts and Grants Department to proactively manage the Tribe’s resources and ensure legacy issues related to energy development are managed appropriately.”

Chairman Melvin J. Baker expressed, “The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is honored to have been awarded this funding, which will serve as a valuable resource in furthering our commitment to a clean and sustainable future.” In recognition of their dedication and proactive efforts, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has been granted $497,850. This financial support will enable the Tribe to play a pivotal role in the broader mission of addressing legacy pollution and enhancing the well-being of Tribal communities.



Summer R. Begay

Communication Specialist | Tribal Council Affairs

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

P.O. Box 737 Ignacio, CO 81137

Office: 970-563-2313

Work Cell: 970-553-0052

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