Michelle L. Price – The Deseret News
Utah has the nation’s highest rate of newly drilled oil and gas wells that federal officials deemed a priority but failed to inspect amid a surge in drilling in recent years, according to an Associated Press review of government data.
Data from the federal Bureau of Land Management show that from fiscal year 2009 to 2012, the agency failed to inspect 67 percent of the 327 wells on federal and Indian lands deemed a high priority in the state. They’re located in eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin, the center of the state’s oil and gas production.
They are among about 1,400 priority wells that went unexamined in 13 states. The wells are deemed high pollution risks or are located near national forests and fragile watersheds.
As drilling mushroomed across the country in recent years, BLM officials say the agency has struggled to keep up with new wells and offer competitive salaries for inspectors.
“No one would have predicted the incredible boom of drilling on federal lands, and the number of wells we’ve been asked to process,” BLM deputy director Linda Lance told The Associated Press. (…)