Unenforced regulations linked to underfunding, understaffing and efforts from groups like ALEC
Regulations at oil and gas wells around the country consistently go unenforced, according to a report released this week by the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
The damning report, “Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil and Gas Regulatory Enforcement,” found that every state studied failed to adequately enforce regulations, with thousands of oil and gas wells uninspected every year. Earthworks highlight understaffing and underfunding as key factors in unenforcement.
The report notes:
The U.S. faces a crisis in the enforcement of rules governing the oil and gas industry. The shale gas and shale oil boom has brought an expansion of oil and gas activity unseen in many parts the country since the 19th century. Unfortunately, as this report shows, states are dangerously unprepared to oversee current levels of extraction, let alone increased drilling activity from the shale boom.
Earthworks argues that, for most major energy companies, the cost penalties over unenforced regulations are factored into budgets as “the cost of doing business” — serving as little deterrence to improve inspection records.
DeSmog Blog fellow Steve Horn posits a more sinister “design” behind the regulatory failures, pointing to the efforts of right-wing lobby groups like ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which — with vast financial backing from oil and gas corporations – have successfully gutted environmental oversight in many oil and gas industry states.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and one of the “Other ALECs,” the Council of State Governments (CSG), have moved to gut EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations for a two-year time window, calling them a “regulatory trainwreck.” The model resolution has been introduced in an astounding 34 states, passing in 13, as of June 2011.
ALEC has also proposed and passed a model bill that erodes local democracy in the sphere of zoning rights, which passed in Pennsylvania, almost passed in Texas and failed to pass in Colorado.
Passage of this resolution and model bill in statehouses means the very statehouses covered in the Earthworks report are left on their own to regulate at the well-head level and at the greenhouse gas emissions level.
The cherry on top here is the piece of legislation mandating fracking chemical fluid disclosure at the state level, which also came into existence via an ALEC and CSG model bill written by and for ExxonMobil. It’s laden with the very loopholes one would expect from a bill written by Exxon, rendering “disclosure” meaningless. That bill has passed in Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania, as well, all states covered in the Earthworks study.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com. More Natasha Lennard.
More Related Stories
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11