CHEYENNE (AP) — Wyoming will use federal coronavirus relief funding to help petroleum companies move ahead with oil and gas drilling projects stalled by the pandemic and plug idle wells.

North Dakota already is using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for well plugging and cleanup.

Together, the two major oil-producing states will spend as much as $81 million in CARES Act funding to help the struggling oil and gas industry.

Proponents point out the pandemic has reduced travel, lowering demand for gasoline and jet fuel.

The funding also has qualified support from land stewardship advocates who seldom side with petroleum companies.

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