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Watchdog Group: Not Enough Enforcement for Oil and Gas Industry

Photo: inlandwest via Flickr

A watchdog group says New Mexico lacks enough inspectors to adequately oversee the tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells across the state. 

Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project released a new report Thursday that shows the number of inspections conducted by the Oil Conservation Division increased in 2011 but that more than half of producing wells went unchecked. The group questions whether the state can ensure responsible oil and gas development without adequate inspections and enforcement of existing rules.

The report comes as state regulators consider a request by the industry to revamp the so-called pit rule. The rule governs how oil and gas producers handle wastes from drilling operations in pits, buried tanks, sumps and closed-loop systems. At hearings this week in Santa Fe, energy producers told regulators they have seen their costs rise and ranchers said they are concerned about contamination. The oil and gas industry contends the rule needs to be amended to ensure producers remain competitive.

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