Our colleagues at the National Wildlife Federation just released a very important report that details oil and gas incidents from 2000 to 2010, including hundreds of deaths, explosions, fires, seeps, and spills as well as habitat and wildlife destruction in the United States. As they conclude: "These disasters demonstrate a pattern of feeding America’s addiction to oil, leaving in their wake sacrifice zones that affect communities, local economies, and our landscapes."
We hear reports of leaks or spills all the time. Even small leaks add up, can get worse, and can cause severe harm in their own right. Just yesterday, driving along I-70 in western Colorado, I noticed corroded pipes and equipment on several wellpads I drove by--perhaps already causing a problem.
The sad thing is that many of these environmental incidents are preventable with proper construction and maintenance of facilties. They shouldn't happen; there is no excuse. As the industry continues to expand, there will be more and more sites with equipment that needs to be maintained and monitored. Regulators need to be much more vigilent about enforcing the rules.