State oil and gas rules weak with spotty enforcement

State oil and gas rules weak with spotty enforcement by Ellen M. Gilmer, September 26, 201, E&E News
report issued by Earthworks yesterday says more than half of oil and gas wells go uninspected and that fines for violations amount to pocket change for the industry. The study breaks down enforcement patterns in six states — Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — and includes recommendations for increased oversight. “To be honest, it was a little depressing,” said Earthworks attorney Bruce Baizel, who described the states’ enforcement practices to be “uniformly poor.” The report comes as industry continues its appeal to keep states in charge of oil and gas regulation, and as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s energy plan calls for pushing more industry matters to the states. Baizel points to the new report as evidence that states are not equipped to handle increased oversight responsibility. The Earthworks report recommends a significant increase in penalties, which researchers say could contribute to more stable funding for regulating agencies — often subject to state budget trimming — and a resulting decrease in violations. “You have to make them feel it in the pocketbook, and that’ll make them change their behavior,” Baizel said.

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