States with petroleum production need to establish firm rules for how often oil and gas wells are inspected, how many inspectors are available to do the job, and invest in equipment to help with with task, a new study by the Earthworks group. Regulators should require producers to do their own monitoring of emissions and pollution, and higher fees for permits could help cover the costs of boosting enforcement, says the study by the group's Oil and Gas Accountability Project. In Texas in particular, the group says, the Texas Railroad Commission has seen fewer inspections despite more staff and fines are too low to deter violators. OGAP said in 2009 the state inspected fewer than half the producing wells in Texas. Railroad Commission officials were not available for immediate comment.
-- Jim Fuquay