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Addressing Methane Emissions in Louisiana: How Many Jobs Will it Take?

It is no secret that Louisiana is home to a massive concentration of oil and gas production and transportation infrastructure.  Lesser known however, is the precipitous drop in the number of jobs operating, maintaining, and repairing that infrastructure. 


In the last ten years, just over 20,000 Louisiana jobs in oil and gas production have vanished.


But the platforms, wellheads, and  pipelines remain.  Indeed, this report evaluates Louisiana’s  oil and gas well population and finds that there are over 60,000 unplugged wells in Louisiana that are close to the end of their economic life and due for decommissioning.  This also includes thousands  of offshore platforms, and no longer in use pipelines, both representing decades of work in cleaning up well sites and dealing with other dilapidated natural gas infrastructure.  It took decades to install this iron, and it will require no less to remove it. 

There is clearly a need for a specialized oil and gas workforce, just not as much appetite to pay people to do this necessary work.  This report looks at recent U.S. federal funding for orphaned well plugging and regulation to address methane emissions in the oil and gas industry as low hanging fruit to put Louisianans back to work.  But it’s simply not enough to cling to business as usual. We propose a common sense approach that seeks to rebuild Louisiana's  middle working class and our coast in one fell swoop. 







Key Findings


EPA Methane Rule

In March 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new regulations intended to reduce methane emissions. These regulations focus on oil and natural gas operations for both production and processing as well as natural gas transmission and storage.  EPA’s new rules reduce methane through improved efforts at monitoring and requiring the replacement or abatement of known high-leak components.  

Our report finds that Louisiana will require 2,609 direct jobs to successfully meet EPA methane emissions regulations. While a portion of these jobs will focus on replacement and abatement of methane emissions (1,557) and thus be temporary, those positions related to maintenance and monitoring (1,053) will be permanent. 


Decommissioning Oil & Gas Wells

Through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA), the federal government allotted $4.7 billion for “Methane Reduction Infrastructure” to decommission orphaned oil and gas wells, which includes plugging the well and surface reclamation. Included in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is $1 billion for reducing methane emissions from marginal (low-producing) conventional oil and gas wells, including $700 million for state grants to decommission wells. Louisiana could receive a total $181 million in IIJA funds to clean up its orphaned wells. This includes $25 million in initial grants, $111.5 million in formula grants and up to $70 million in performance grants. Louisiana is also eligible for $15.7 million to plug marginal wells to reduce methane emissions. 

Decommissioning all of Louisiana’s 4,605 documented orphaned wells in Louisiana will support between 803 and 1,607 direct job-years. Utilizing $197 million from the IIJA and IRA to decommission only orphaned and marginal (2,261) conventional wells that have dedicated funding would require between 394 and 1,243 job years. These are only direct jobs. 

However, orphaned wells are not the only wells that will require decommissioning in the near future. Between Louisiana’s 20 thousand inactive wells sitting dormant and producing zero commercial product to Louisiana’s 23 thousand marginal wells producing nary a cough of gas, there is plenty of infrastructure waiting to be decommissioned.  And decommissioning the total unplugged well inventory in Louisiana (including offshore wells and platforms) will support between 20,429 and 49,138 direct job-years. This report attempts to grapple with the extent of well and oil and gas remediation will take in a state experiencing rapid coastal collapse, in large part because of oil and gas production. While we explicitly recommend that the orphan well plugging and remediation program should work in concert with Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, we believe more work should be done to ensure that the workforce carrying out this critical work is provided the best possible training, working conditions, and compensation. As our report shows, there’s a great deal of work to do. 

Key Recommendations 

Whether Louisiana’s methane mitigation workforce can support themselves and their family in dignity and comfort has yet to be determined.  We can seize these new federal requirements and leverage this new federal funding to invest both in the cleaning up of our great state and in building up Louisiana households.     



  • Workforce Development Boards could play a powerful role to prepare individuals living in Louisiana communities for careers in the budding methane mitigation industry.  If a training program is not explicitly linked to jobs then it runs the risk of being nothing more than a “train and pray” scheme. There is an opportunity to increase coordination between the Louisiana Department of Energy and Natural Resources and the Louisiana Workforce Commission and participating union apprenticeships. There will be no shortage of wells to plug and infrastructure to dismantle.          



  • Have you ever waited for a road to be repaired for months to fix an electric line, only to have that same road ripped up again at a later date to repair a water pipe? Infrastructure projects should be planned and implemented in coordination.  The orphan well plugging and remediation program should work in concert with Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, and indeed, those wells should be prioritized in support of the State Master Plan.13 To the fullest extent possible, oil and gas infrastructure remediation efforts should be carried out to support coastal restoration projects.  As such, labor recommendations below apply to both CPRA contracts and DENR contracts.                    


  • Implement a policy stipulating that both the primary bidder and all subcontractors participate in active apprenticeship and training programs approved and registered with the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training for each of the trades of work contemplated under the awarded contract.    

  • Establish a labor hours requirement which provides that a minimum percentage (15 percent) of the total labor hours for a given project must be performed by qualified apprentices.  Qualified apprentices are those workers participating in a registered apprenticeship program with the U.S. Department of Labor.


  • Ensure that workers must be classified as employees, not as independent contractors, and that bidders and subcontractors require a health insurance plan and offer a defined-benefit or defined contribution retirement plan for all employees.                    

  • Require bidders to present certificates of insurance detailing coverage in the following areas: general liability, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, automobile, and hazardous occupations. 

  • Ensure that bidders cannot be rewarded federal grant funds if their companies have outstanding uncorrected or unabated violations or have any labor, safety, or environmental violations.


  • Mandate the use of “toolbox” safety meetings (routine but informal meetings that focus on a specific safety talk) for all employees under supervision and that minutes of Tool-Box Talks are maintained and a copy of each given to all employees on-site.

  • Essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),  such as hardhats, safety glasses and vests, must be provided by managing contractors on project sites and mandatory for all individuals on-site.

  • All workers on projects must have successfully completed an OSHA-approved, 10-hour construction safety training program and other OSHA-pertinent certifications, such as crane operator and forklift certifications for equipment being used on-site.

  • Contractor must provide Fall Protection Plans, Fume/ Odor Controls plans, and supply documented evidence of their competent person’s training and of their “qualified persons,” as required by OSHA.   

  • All on-site workers must be certified by appropriate licensure or accreditation bodies, if applicable, as a competent person in the type of work being performed. Moreover, all appropriate licenses must be issued to workers performing such licensed work when and where applicable.

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