CBS News: Oil & gas industry spills happen "all the time"

Last night CBS Evening News aired a report on oil and gas spills. After a six-month in-depth investigation, they found that: "spills of crude oil and toxic chemicals last year alone were three times the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill." Among the findings aired in the report:

  • "Everyday there's numerous releases happening throughout just this country," according to an expert.
  • No one in the government knows just how many incidents there are.
  • "If you don't even know how many releases are occurring, if you don't even know what the overall consequences are, you can not answer the question of whether we are safe enough," according to a second expert.
  • Not counting the BP disaster, CBS News found there were at least 6,500 spills, leaks, fires or explosions nationwide in 2010, or an average of 18 per day. Overall, they found that at least 34 million gallons of crude oil and other potentially toxic chemicals were spilled. That's triple the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

As U.S. Senator James Inhofe said in a Senate hearing yesterday, natural gas production in the U.S. is booming, "due in no small measure to the absence of federal regulation."

But is not just a void of federal regulation. It is also a severe lack of sufficient state regulation that has led to inadequate oversight of oil and gas operations. Recent news from Pennsylvania is that state regulators say they spend "as little as 35 minutes reviewing each of the thousands of applications for natural gas well permits ..... And the regulators say they do not give any additional scrutiny to requests to drill near high-quality streams and rivers even though the waterways are protected by state and federal law."

As the CBS News report makes clear, we need much better regulation of the oil and gas industry and stronger enforcement of the rules on the books.

Related Issues
Fossil Fuels

Related Blogs