New Mexico: about 85 percent of oil and gas sites failed to pass safety inspections

NRDC strongly supports the rights of local governments to protect their citizens from the risks of fracking by managing the siting and operations of oil and gas companies within their borders. Our Community Fracking Defense Project was established to help communities who want to take steps to protect their quality of life.

Is it any wonder that more and more local governments feel they need to take action because the federal government and states are not doing enough to protect human health and the environment? A recent article in the Denver Post outlines some of the most recent community efforts in Colorado.

In New Mexico, according to a news investigation, about 85 percent of 276 oil and gas well sites inspected over the past six weeks failed electrical safety inspections. The good news is that the state carried out the inspections, although they were overdue. We are very concerned that states have too few inspectors to keep on top of this increasingly expanding industry.

The bad news is that the industry seems to think it is above the law and doesn't always have to comply with rules unless someone catches it in the act of violating them. I recently blogged about contamination cases in Colorado and Wyoming where no fines were imposed, even though in one case, benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in an important water source.

Penalties need to be much stronger or the oil and gas industry will continue to have no incentive to abide by the laws.