West Virginia official tells it like it is--we need new oil and gas regulations

I've blogged about some of the environmental and health concerns stemming from natural gas development in rural West Virginia. Now the state's Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is proposing new state policies to catch up with the exploding development and the industry's current technologies. According to the state's Secretary of Environmental Protection: "In my view as a regulator, we have a whole new industry and we don't have a regulatory program to deal with that industry."

Among other things, the proposal would double the state's oil and gas enforcement staff, which is critical. Having the right laws on the books are crucial, but so is having enough staff in the field. According to our colleagues at the West Virginia Environmental Council, the proposal is not enough to safely protect West Virginia's environment and the health of its citizens, but "It's a start." We hope it will be strengthened as it makes its way through the state legislature.

Unfortunately, there is a dire need to update the rules in all 30 states where oil and gas is being produced. We also need a strong federal program to make sure each state is meeting a minimum federal standard, starting with closing the loopholes for oil and gas operations in our fundamental environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act.