Require Inspections of Dangerous Oil and Gas Wells


Target: Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze

Goal: Ensure that high-risk oil and gas wells are inspected as required by federal law

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently announced its findings of a study conducted to evaluate how effectively the federal government is inspecting oil and gas wells in the United States. According to the report, federal regulators are failing to inspect thousands of wells that have been classified as high-risk. As the fracking boom continues in the U.S., concerns are mounting over the health and environmental impacts of the activity. Hold the Bureau of Land Management’s Director, Neil Kornze, accountable for the agency’s failure to effectively manage the safety standards of oil and gas wells across the country.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to inspect 2,100 of the 3,702 high-priority wells drilled between 2009 and 2012, despite the fact these types of wells are mandated for inspection according to the agency’s own rules. According to the Natural Resources and Environment branch of the GAO, such wells are deemed high-risk out of a need to protect usable water or because they are located within high-pressure zones that contain hydrogen sulfate, which could pose a safety hazard if it were to be released. In addition, the BLM’s own process for identifying high-priority wells is flawed because designations are made by local engineers who do not use the same standards for every location.

The GAO report also indicates that the number of wells the BLM failed to inspect may actually be much higher. The agency’s database is missing information on whether 1,784 wells were identified as low- or high-priority. GAO investigators were unable to determine how many of these high-priority wells went without an inspection by state or federal regulators. Some of the wells were inspected by the states, but that information is unavailable. When inspections do occur, the BLM has outdated rules and guidelines managing oil and gas development. The BLM has failed to keep up with technological advances such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Public lands are being exploited for the oil and gas industry’s profits. Humans and wildlife throughout the country are being put at risk for the industry’s gain. Hold BLM Director Kornze accountable for this serious lack of oversight and accountability, and urge him to take swift measures to correct these egregious errors.


Dear Director Kornze,

I am deeply concerned over a recent report made public by the Government Accountability Office which calls into question the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to inspect high-priority oil and gas wells throughout the United States. The report findings make clear that there is a serious lack of oversight and accountability within BLM’s well inspection process.

I urge you to take swift, serious measures to correct these deficiencies in the inspection system. We continue to learn more about the dangers posed by oil and gas wells and their negative impacts on humans, wildlife and the environment. Fracking on public and tribal lands poses serious threats and I expect BLM regulators to take every measure necessary to protect the lands and inhabitants of effected areas.

Do not allow the oil and gas industry to destroy our landscape and its inhabitants. I expect you to ensure that BLM carries out its mission of maintaining and protecting public lands.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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