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96% of Oil Violations Unpunished

A study of 80,000 violations for gas and oil drillers shows that no penalties or fines were levied on 96 percent of them in the state of Texas. If you are wondering why this matters because it is only one state, please keep in mind that Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be President of the United States, and former Texas governor George Bush was president for two consecutive terms. George Bush was involved in the oil industry to an extent before he became President, and we have more than enough evidence of the role politicians have played in lax enforcement and allowing the petroleum industry to heavily influence the regulatory climate.

Other states also have very low enforcement rates, such as West Virginia which has over 50,000 oil wells, yet issued only 19 penalties last year. (This state also has large coal mining operations that typically don’t receive many penalties either.) Pennsylvania and Wyoming also have not levied many fines, though there are likely enough infractions for them to do so.

This is just one example at the local level, but a woman living in Texas videotaped a strange bubbling hole near her property and uploaded it to YouTube. Exxon was supposed to fix the leak, but later benzene, a carcinogen, was detected in the groundwater over 30 feet below the surface, so it clearly leaked for some time. Exxon reportedly was not penalized for the contamination or for waiting so long to address the problem. Exxon Mobil’s 2010 revenues were $383 billion.

Citizen journalism isn’t likely to make a huge change in the oil industry practices, but it can sometimes hold them accountable when people like us take the time to photograph and videotape the damage they cause and publish it online, because it can become a public relations nightmare.

It also doesn’t appear the federal government is going to force the oil companies to behave, as they believe drilling in the Arctic, where some polar bears live, is a good idea: “Arctic waters would be open to new oil and gas development under an Obama administration proposal that keeps the Pacific and Atlantic coasts off limits to new drilling. The proposal, which outlines offshore oil and gas leasing from 2012 to 2017, omits areas on the West and East coasts that the Bush administration planned to open to drilling. But it also calls for three lease sales off the coast of Alaska in environmentally fragile areas that have become a much contested frontier of energy production.” (Source: LA Times) British Petroleum could be drilling in the Gulf of Mexico again soon as well.

A petroleum industry association official actually said they are doing a good job, “The system is working well from an environmental standpoint.” (Source: EandEPublishing)

Perhaps this oil industry official is unaware of the 250,000 oil spills in U.S. waters documented just in several decades?

Image Credit: Billy Hathorn / Wiki Commons

Related Links
Oil Drilling to Begin in Gulf Again
250,000 Oil Spills in U.S. Waters

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33 comments

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12:21AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Thanks for the great article.

2:04PM PST on Nov 25, 2011

Thanks for posting it, we can make a difference if we continue to educate ourselves, and not just listen to their lies.

7:33AM PST on Nov 21, 2011

Why dont We just drill in No. Dakota? When theres 3.5 billion barrels there, more than the entire middle East, come on, We dont need any more oil in the ocean
http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1911

2:12PM PST on Nov 20, 2011

Please, let's stop putting money before our own children's health -and lives!!!

12:42PM PST on Nov 20, 2011

Sounds right!~

9:19AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

BIG GOVERNMENT does not punish MONEY. Time for a change.

5:20PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

Jane R, Your remarks are dead on, you, the little guys and gals pay for the majority of spills, through what is known MSRC, Maine Safety Response Corporation. This is made possible at the pump, so do not let any one tell you that the Oil Companies are footing the bill, you are, as always.

Lets change things, please look to joining and supporting the Occupy Movement, after all, you are among the 99%.

11:00AM PST on Nov 19, 2011

of course, all they have to do is bribe them and all is forgiven

10:50AM PST on Nov 19, 2011

So what else is new--it would cost them money to do repairs-can't do that. Their only concern is making money - they don't give two hoots about anything else. Unfortunate to say, we also have a government that feels the same way or none of this crap would be going on to begin with. It's all about money for them.

8:53AM PST on Nov 19, 2011

Big Government didn't punish Big Oil for its mistakes?! Yeah, that seems about right!! ;-)

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