As a landowner, the U.S. government often rushes to lease oil and gas drilling rights to companies eager to profit. But when it comes to inspecting the wells for compliance with safety and environmental standards, the government can be rather slow.
Investigative journalists from the Associated Press and Climate Desk got data from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on high-risk oil and gas wells on federal and Indian lands from 2009 to 2012. Some 40 percent of the high-risk wells had not been inspected. BLM says it does not have enough inspectors.
Federal data, though sometimes hard to get, can provide many local stories for environmental journalists. After the AP exposé, Climate Desk published a map showing the counties with the most uninspected wells.
- "40 Percent of High Risk Oil and Gas Wells Aren't Inspected As Feds Struggle To Keep Up," Associated Press, June 15, 2014, by Hope Yen and Thomas Peipert.
- "There Are 1,401 Uninspected High-Risk Oil and Gas Wells. Here's Where They Are.," Mother Jones, June 23, 2014, by Tim McDonnell and AJ Vicens.