Nearly half of the newly drilled gas and oil well that are considered a high risk for pollution in Wyoming were not inspected during a period of three years, according to a news agency’s review of data from the federal government.
Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not examine over 40% of the high-priority wells, which shows how the department is struggling to maintain pace with the drilling boom in America over the past 10 years.
The bureau released national records that give a snapshot of the inspections between the 2009 and 2012 fiscal years. The agency is in charge of overseeing more than 100,000 gas and oil wells on public land.
Close to 3,500 of them were given a designation of high-priority since they are located close to fragile watersheds, national forests or identified as possible high pollution risks.
The state of Wyoming was amongst the leading states for drilling gas and oil during that period, yet the BLM records indicate that about 45% or approximately 1,400 new wells that were labeled high priority and on public land in Wyoming did not receive a review during that period.
Cuts in the federal budget are amongst the reasons that more wells were not inspected during that period in Wyoming, according to officials at the BLM at their Cheyenne headquarters.
The bureau has also struggled to recruit as well as retain staff to make the inspections, especially in areas in western Wyoming where there is a substantial amount of drilling of gas and oil.
In Wyoming, close to 420 uninspected wells that are high-priority, close to 2/3 of the 630 statewide wells, were covered by the Buffalo Field Office of the BLM. That office oversees the development of coal bed methane in the Powder River Basin.
Close to all of those particular wells were of the coal-bed methane gas type but some had been oil wells, showed government figures.
Close to 150 high-priority well that that were uninspected or almost 25% of the total statewide, were in areas that the Casper Field Office of the BLM covered.