News Feature | July 16, 2014

Many Fracking Wells Go Uninspected, Report Shows

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


A new report conducted by the Associated Press paints a negative view of fracking, describing a major threat to the water supply that authorities are failing to check with regulations and oversight. 

"Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks, escape federal inspection, unchecked by [regulators] struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom," said the report, which shows "wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks."

"Roughly half or more of wells on federal and Indian lands weren't checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to efforts in some communities to ban new drilling. In Pennsylvania, one of six high-risk wells went uninspected," it continued. 

The AP report showed that oversight resources are inadequate, CleanTechnica said in a summary of the findings. 

"In terms of the inspection resources, AP points out that the starting salary for a petroleum engineer is about $90,000, while a similarly-qualified post at the Bureau of Land Management pays about $35,000. Congress would have to cough up some big bucks to bridge that gap, which is not likely to happen given the Republican-dominated squeeze on federal finances," the report said. 

Energy From Shale, a pro-fracking industry group, emphasizes what it sees as the safety of fracking and the adequacy of the current regulations. 

"Hydraulic fracturing technology has a strong environmental track record and is employed under close supervision by state, local and federal regulators. While all development has challenges, hydraulic fracturing does not introduce new or unique environmental risks to exploration and production operations, but concerns have been raised due to the potential scale of operations where this technology is applied," the group says. 

For more oil and gas news, check out Water Online's Produced Water Solution Center

Image credit: "Drilling for Oil," NatalieMaynor © 2007, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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