Interior secretary: Major backlog of inspections for high-risk oil, gas wells on federal land

IndustriesAssociated Press

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says her agency does not have sufficient resources to inspect high-risk oil and gas wells on federal land as a drilling boom continues in Wyoming, Colorado and other states.

The Obama administration has proposed a fee on oil and gas drillers that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to hire more than 60 inspectors, but the proposal has not gained traction in Congress.

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Jewell says the bureau faces a "major backlog of inspections" as it tries to keep pace with a drilling boom that has sharply increased U.S. oil and gas production in recent years.

The Associated Press reported last year that 40 percent of new wells on federal and Indian land with a higher pollution risk were not inspected from 2009 to 2012.