Gwen Lachelt of Washington, D.C.-based Earthworks, which advocates more oversight of the gas industry, "notes that in other states with surging natural gas production, there has been no effort to beef up oversight of the oil and gas industry. 'No one is minding the store,' Lachelt says. 'The states are simply not enforcing what regulations they do have on the books…They don’t have enough inspectors, and wells are going uninspected."
Because of a lack of manpower, most wells across the U.S. are not inspected in a given year. Malewitz notes that, for example, New Mexico has roughly the same number of oil and gas wells as Ohio, but it employs only 12 inspectors to oversee them. That small crew made between 25,000 and 30,000 inspections last year. In Colorado, home to 47,651 wells, a team of 15 performed 12,000 inspections in 2011, according to the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (Read more)