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November 14, 2013 01:41 PM UTC

This is What Happens When You Don't Have Drilling Regulations

  • 5 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

A disturbing story from EnergyWire (paywall) by former Denver Post reporter Mike Soraghan highlights the problem with the fallacy that the oil and gas industry can regulate itself:

New Mexico oil and gas regulators haven't fined a single driller for violations this year. They didn't last year, either. Or the year before that.

That's not for a lack of problems at well sites. Since 2010, inspectors recorded more than 3,600 violations. [Pols Emphasis]

Instead, it's because the state Oil Conservation Division hasn't had the authority to levy fines since March 2009. So when inspectors find a problem, there's not much they can do except ask the driller to fix it.

'We play a lot of poker,' explained Daniel Sanchez, the agency's chief of enforcement.

Colorado's regulations on oil and gas aren't as completely vacant as those in New Mexico, but they're about as toothless as your great-grandmother. As of October 21, there had been 328 oil and gas spills in Colorado — 328 — which is well more than one per day. Proponents of widespread oil and gas drilling will say that "accidents happen," but at what point do we step in and do something about companies who keep producing "accidents"?

Comments

5 thoughts on “This is What Happens When You Don’t Have Drilling Regulations

    1. I rather disagree, Moderatus.This information just verifies what most of us already know. It helps to have the actual numbers. The oil and gas industry has an abysmal record of safety and a robust history of polluting the world…and not cleaning up. One way they continue to get away with it is to hide it.

      The most recent report I read said BLM inspectors (as an example) spend 17% of their time inspecting wells. Many wells only get inspected every few years…and when violations are found, there are minilmal or no consequences.

      It is the status quo….

    2. No, they aren't. But nobody is actually enforcing anything here either. Clearly there is no incentive to reduce spills when they happen so frequently.

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