The following statement is from Phil Hanceford, assistant director for policy and planning for The Wilderness Society, on the recent discovery of an unreported oil spill in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
“The news that an unreported oil spill has been contaminating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a sure sign that stronger BLM oversight is needed for oil and gas drillers operating on public lands.
“The fact that this spill went unreported for years illustrates both the carelessness of the responsible company, and the need for the BLM to increase its limited monitoring and enforcement capacity. Recognizing this important and longstanding need, the Obama Administration has requested additional funding for the BLM’s oil and gas inspection and enforcement program, which is a good step towards helping to avoid such problems in the future.
“We need higher standards of protection for public lands and waters. New and creative ways of getting oil and gas out of the ground also bring new and creative challenges to keeping lands and water pollution-free. We should hold the oil and gas industry to the highest standard for extracting resources from our public lands and keep drilling away from sensitive areas.
“The BLM has already started reforms to make drilling safer. It should continue these reforms, expand implementation of Master Leasing Plans to guide oil and gas development to appropriate places and away from sensitive areas, and finalize strong standards for hydraulic fracturing.”