Fracking Regulations and inspections in the US – report

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report oil and gas regulations inspections
Study – 662993 regulation inspection report us
BLM = Bureau of Land Management.

Reporter: Geert

Below is an editorial that appeared in the Washington Post, commenting on the findings of a recent study by the US Government Accountability Office.
It shows that fracking on federal lands in the US goes ahead unmonitored. Just over half of the high-priority wells gets inspected by the Bureau for Land Management (p.33):
Our review of
available data from AFMSS determined that more than 2,100 of the 3,702
wells that were identified as high priority in BLM’s AFMSS database and
drilled from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2012 were not inspected.
BLM officials told us that the agency has limited staff to complete drilling
inspections, which is consistent with our prior report stating that Interior’s
human capital challenges have made it more difficult to carry out some
oversight activities and that the agency conducted fewer inspections
because of inspector vacancies.59
Moreover, the BLM does not systematically gather data about the inspections that were done. Also, there is no internal review mechanism for these reports by field offices (pp.33-34).
However, BLM’s continued reliance on outdated rules and guidance,
limited coordination with state regulatory agencies, incomplete data on
the location of resources and industry activities, and delayed reviews of
communitization agreements hinder BLM’s ability to effectively manage
and oversee the development of federal and Indian resources.
Specifically, BLM has not established a process to ensure that all rules
and guidance are reviewed and periodically updated consistent with
technological advances, as called for by Interior’s guidance and executive
order. Without such a process, BLM cannot provide reasonable
assurance that oil and gas rules are keeping pace with and are consistent
with technological advances. In addition, BLM’s inspection program is
fundamental to ensuring sound oil and gas operations. However, BLM
may be missing opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness
of this program. In particular, BLM has not developed formal agreements,
in the form of memorandums of understanding, as called for by its internal
guidance, to coordinate inspections with state oil and gas regulatory
agencies. As a result, it has conducted duplicative inspections of some
wells and left
Given this poor oversight, it should be no surprise that the US Government Accountability Office added “Interior’s management of federal oil and gas resources to our list of
government programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or in need of broad reform” (p. 2).
As I have written in my submission to the Commission and repeated in subsequent conversations, the capacity of EU Member States to properly inspect remains to be seen, but feedback from national groups does not make me optimistic.
I see very little progress on the following issues at national level:
  • training for the staff of competent authorities
  • emergency response plans prepared jointly by operators, regulators and emergency services
  • involvement of local authorities
  • how an adequate inspection regime could/will be funded by operators
  • anti-fraud & corruption measures
    Their conclusion: Too few inspections, too little manpower, no systematic data-gathering, no regular review of the rules and a high risk of fraud.
    This begs the question what is happening in EU Member States. Are EU Member States ready to inspect a complex and nomadic industry with high environmental risks, operating in densely populated areas? The answer is no.
    The key question to be answered:  whether and how the fracking industry is controlled (or not) in the EU.