"Oil and gas spills surge, two a day, residents often not notified"

The Denver Post headline says it all: "Oil and gas spills surge, two a day, residents often not notified."

There have been reports for years about the high number of spills in Colorado. The good news is that Colorado makes the data accessible to the public. The bad news is that there are too many spills.

There may be just as many spills in other states, but the information is not easily available to the public in most states with oil and gas activity.

This recent Denver Post investigation found that "Oil and gas spills are happening more often in Colorado — at a rate of two a day this year — and usually without anyone telling residents." The Post also reports that "Colorado has seen nearly as many spills so far this year as were recorded in all of 2013." According to the Post, "Since May, oil and gas companies spilled liquids — including cancer-causing benzene — at least 177 times, a Denver Post analysis of the COGCC data found. Several spills contaminated groundwater, and one flowed into a river."

Colorado state officials explain this increase as due to new reporting requirements and tougher enforcement. The bottom line, however, is that there shouldn't be any spills. The number of spills reflects irresponsible industry practices and penalties too weak to incentivize compliance.

The fact that local residents are not notified adds insult to injury and should be mandated in all states.