Horse News

GAO report: BLM fails to inspect most high-risk natural gas oil wells

The BLM’s failure to protect wild horses from extinction seems to be part of its failure to manage public lands.  Read the GAO report below to find out more about how BLM’s failures create potential risks for water contamination and other environmental safety issues.  (Be sure to ask for all reports on each and every oil well in a BLM District when BLM issues an Environmental Assessment to round up wild horses in the future.)  BLM’s outdated science and incomplete monitoring are reported AGAIN.              –  Debbie Coffey

Read the GAO report released Monday.

SOURCE:  Associated Press

Fed Govt Failed To Inspect Higher Risk Oil Wells

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands.

Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data.

The findings from the Government Accountability Office come amid an energy boom in the country and the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That process involves pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow. It has produced major economic benefits, but also raised fears that the chemicals could spread to water supplies.

The audit also said the BLM did not coordinate effectively with state regulators in New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.

The bureau has become a symbol of federal overreach to industry groups opposed to government regulations related to oil and gas drilling. Environmental groups say the Obama administration needs to do more to guard against environmental damage.

In the coming months, the administration is expected to issue rules on fracking and methane gas emissions.

The report said the agency “cannot accurately and efficiently identify whether federal and Indian resources are properly protected or that federal and Indian resources are at risk of being extracted without agency approval.”

In response to the report, Tommy Beaudreau, a principal deputy assistant interior secretary, wrote that he generally agreed with the recommendations for improved state coordination and updated regulations.

The report makes clear in many instances that the BLM’s failure to inspect high-priority oil and gas wells is due to limited money and staff. BLM officials said they were in the process of updating several of its policies later this year.

Investigators reviewed 14 states in full or part: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. In Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, fracking has become increasingly prevalent.

The report said the BLM had failed to conduct inspections on more than 2,100 of the 3,702 wells that it had specified as “high priority” and drilled from 2009 through 2012. The agency considers a well “high priority” based on a greater need to protect against possible water contamination and other environmental safety issues.

The agency had yet to indicate whether another 1,784 wells were high priority or not.

The BLM has developed agreements with some states, which also have jurisdiction over well inspections on federal lands. According to the GAO, it had reached agreements with regulators in California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming.

The report said BLM has not reviewed or updated many of its oil and gas rules to reflect technological advances, as required by a 2011 executive order. They include guidance on spacing of wells, which the report said could help maximize oil and gas production.

The bureau acknowledged it had not updated its guidance on oil and gas drainage since 1999 or its guidance on mineral trespass — interference of drilling or mining activity — since 2003.

Congressional investigators found the BLM did not monitor inspection activities at its state and field offices and thus could not provide “reasonable assurance” that those offices were completing the required inspections.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, an Associated Press investigation found the state received 398 complaints in 2013 alleging that oil or natural gas drilling polluted or otherwise affected private water wells. More than 100 cases of pollution were confirmed over the past five years.

“This report reaffirms our concern that the government needs to pay attention to the environment and protect public health and drinking sources from the risks of oil and gas development,” said Amy Mall of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, a trade group representing energy companies, said the report’s findings show that states are better positioned to regulate oil and gas drilling.





22 replies »

  1. Reforming Federal Land Management

    BLM’s policies create bad incentives not just for the users of federal lands, but also for BLM managers. The rules for the share of fees that can be retained by the BLM, for example, are not consistent. At various times in recent history, the BLM has been allowed to keep 25 percent of timber revenues collected in western Oregon but none elsewhere. It can keep 50 percent of grazing revenues, but no recreation revenues, except in a few locations where it can keep 100 percent.

    The BLM is allowed to charge 100 percent of fair market value for coal, oil, gas, and timber, but the fees it can charge for hardrock minerals (other than coal), grazing, and recreation are regulated by Congress and are usually well below market value. Following its incentives, the agency tends to focus its attention on resources that produce revenues it is allowed to keep but neglects other resources.

    A related problem is that special interest groups have persuaded Congress to give them a share of BLM revenues, and they lobby hard to keep those privileges.


  2. Answer to all Problems with BLM, fire them all, 1 Land management Agency, I wh&b Agency separate from each other ……………..


    • I agree, Arlene. The BLM should not be “managing” the wild horses and burros. The BLM is not protecting them, as they are mandated to do, but ARE IN FACT facilitating the removal and demise of them.


      • Who governs the BLM, who has the Authority to dismiss the whole lot of them??????


      • Raze them all. Congress can defund them, but the entire lot of federal land management agencies that also manage wild horses and burros are corrupt to the core. They have public-private partnerships with the TNC, Wildlife Society, Sierra Club, Safari Club, Wildlife Fund, and a host of other ngo’s. Our scientific governing boards have been infiltrated by the ideological IUCN that have sold our environment and our country down the river for VP Al Gore’s greater good while he laughters his green methane gas all the way to the bank. The Democrats in the Senate are not going to do a thing to stop this because most of them are dependent on funding from the companies that Senator Reid has pulled his razzmatazz land swap puzzles with.


  3. Colorado’s Sand Wash HMA is the largest left in the state, and seems also to be about to host a new O&G drilling effort. I sent this info to the WHB activist groups in Craig months ago but got no reply. This is an area which sorely needs jobs and which Sally Jewell visited a few months ago concerning Sage Grouse… and held a “public” meeting which was closed to the media.

    Southwestern Energy announces multimillion-dollar deal to purchase mineral leases in Moffat and Routt counties
    By Noelle Leavitt Riley
    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Craig — A big energy player announced Wednesday that it had signed an agreement to purchase the mineral leases on 312,000 net acres in Moffat and Routt counties for $180 million, according to a press release.

    Houston-based Southwestern Energy will purchase the leases from Quicksilver Resources Inc., targeting crude oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas contained in the Niobrara formation, according to a news release from Southwestern Energy.

    Shell Oil, which had a joint venture with Quicksilver the mineral leases, announced last August that it would pull out of Northwest Colorado and put its stake up for sale. Now, Southwestern Energy — the fifth-largest producer of natural gas in the United States, according to its website — will take over the leases.

    The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

    “We are very excited about our entry into this emerging liquids-rich resource play,” President and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Energy Steve Mueller said in a statement. “This acreage position covers a substantial area in the Sand Wash Basin — over 50 miles across and over 20 miles wide — and provides the opportunity for us to leverage our operational strengths into a new large, scalable project. Upon closing, we expect that we could begin drilling operations as early as June of this year.”

    Moffat County Natural Resource Director Jeff Comstock is optimistic about the purchase and thinks the news could be great for Northwest Colorado, but he wants more information from Southwestern Energy before hanging his hat on the deal.

    “I think it’d be foolish to speculate on what this means until we have a discussion with Southwestern Energy,” Comstock said.

    Shell Oil called Comstock on Wednesday morning to notify him and the county commissioners about the business deal before it was made public.

    “We were told that the area of mutual interest in both counties was being sold,” he said.

    Last summer’s news that Shell was selling its stake in Northwest Colorado created a nervous ripple effect on local economies in the northwest corner of the state.

    It’s unclear whether Southwestern Energy will produce an economic boon for the area, Comstock said.

    Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at


  4. So what you’re saying is the BLM is a bunch of incompetent nincompoops with getting their palms greased as a priority. I concur…they have shown me nothing to dispel the impression that the entire outfit is proof that nepotism and cronyism are not good systems for government organizations


    • The BLM has been infiltrated with pro-gas, oil, and coal energy minions disguised as wind and solar advocates to hold land in waiting because we can’t drill all of the land at once. Warren Buffet says he buys wind energy for the tax breaks because it is essentially worthless as a source of energy, so it is a losing proposition-and a write off for taxes.


  5. Natural Resources Revenue

    Click to access financial-fraud-law-report-march-2013.pdf

    Gunnison Energy Corporation, SG Interests I Ltd., and SG Interests VII
    Ltd.: In February, the United States announced its first-ever settlement
    of FCA and antitrust claims based on bid-rigging in Bureau of Land
    Management (“BLM”) mineral-rights lease auctions, settling claims
    with Gunnison Energy Corporation (“GEC ”) and SG Interests I Ltd.
    and SG Interests VII Ltd. (jointly, “SGI”) for $550,000.

    The government alleged that GEC and SGI agreed not to compete in bidding for
    four natural gas leases sold at auction by BLM, and that SGI made
    false statements to the government and falsely certified that it was not
    engaged in collusive bidding.65


  6. BLM sells 160 acres netting $23.84 million for projects in Nevada

    Las Vegas –The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today sold 160 acres in 24 parcels for $23,840,000 during a competitive-public-land sale. The agency offered 440 acres, in 28 parcels, under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA).

    The parcels offered for sale varied in size from 2.5 acres to 250 acres. The 28 parcels offered appraised at a fair market value (FMV) of $25,283,000. The largest parcel to receive a bid, 20 acres, sold for $2.1 million at FMV. Four parcels, including the 250-acre largest parcel, received no bids.
    BLM Number Size (Acres) Appraised Value ($) Sale Price ($)
    N-78190 2.50 $490,000 $660,000
    N-91783 5.00 $830,000 $830,000
    N-91794 10.00 $1,050,000 $1,050,000
    N-91795 3.75 $300,000 $370,000
    N-81899 2.50 $200,000 $200,000
    N-91796 10.00 $1,050,000 $1,050,000
    N-91797 17.50 $1,840,000 $1,950,000
    N-91786 10.00 $1,100,000 $2,100,000
    N-91806 2.50 $465,000 $650,000
    N-91807 20.00 $2,100,000 $2,100,000
    N-91808 7.50 $790,000 $1,050,000
    N-91787 2.50 $200,000 $330,000
    N-91809 5.00 $525,000 $525,000
    N-91788 2.50 $225,000 $225,000
    N-91789 5.00 $815,000 $1,300,000
    N-91810 10.00 $1,050,000 $1,050,000
    N-91812 12.50 $1,310,000 No Bids
    N-91782 2.08 $108,000 $210,000
    N-91815 3.15 $135,000 $205,000
    N-79534 16.25 $1,415,000 $2,400,000
    N-91790 2.50 $250,000 $730,000
    N-91791 5.00 $600,000 $1,250,000
    N-91793 7.50 $750,000 $2,200,000
    N-91792 2.50 $290,000 $335,000
    N-91827 2.50 $235,000 No Bids
    N-91844 5.00 $1,070,000 $1,070,000
    N-91842 17.50 $3,500,000 No Bids
    N-91124 247.59 $2,590,000 No Bids
    Total Acres Available Total Appraised Value Total Sale Price
    440.32 $25,283,000 $25,283,000
    Total Acres Sold Total Appraised Value Full Purchase Price
    160.23 $17,648,000 $23,840,000


    • WAIT. They sold all this for BELOW MARKET VALUE???? WTF??? I don’t know what the rules are but I do know they aren’t making any more land.. so there should be a minimum price or a reserve set based on the appraisal. WTF???


  7. BLM Seeks Public Comment on Public Lands Nominated for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development
    ELKO, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko District is making available for public review an Environmental Assessment (EA) for parcels of public land nominated for lease within the Elko District in the 2014 Competitive Oil & Gas Lease Sale. These parcels have the potential for future oil and gas exploration and development. The 30-day public review period concludes Feb. 10, 2014.

    The BLM received nominations for 214 parcels of public land to offer for leasing, totaling more than 435,880 acres. The BLM deferred several of the nominated parcels to protect sage grouse habitat. Other parcels were removed because of cultural and Native American concerns. A detailed listing of deferred parcels is available in the EA and online. The remaining 73 parcels (125,220 acres) have been analyzed for potential impacts in the EA, in accordance with the Oil & Gas Leasing

    Reform mandated in 2010. Lease stipulations identified in the Elko (1987) and Wells (1985) Resource Management Plans are attached to all parcels to help protect resources. The EA is available for public review at:
    The Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale will be conducted on June 24, 2014. Additional information about the sale is available at

    If you have issues or concerns or need more information, contact Allen Mariluch, Project Lead at the BLM Elko District, at (775) 753-0200 or email at


  8. Don’t take your eye off the ball worrying about the cattle men. As anti wild horse as they are they can’t shine the shoes of big energy. Our system of government is 100% Dependant on energy. It seeks it at all costs, five miles deep in the oceans, in wars on foreign soil, from the tops of our mountains and most importantly from tar sands. Nothing stands in the way of big energy, not the land, water, air, horses or people. That is the way it is, bought and paid for by a person known as corporation. Unfortunately, as I believe, as energy is depleted nothing will take its place except going back to a life style before oil and gas. Small local farms, powered by wind, hydro and yes even horses will play a role. BUT remember, 100 years ago we had no oil and horses 100 years from now we will have no oil or horses. OPPS. Our very existance sold out by the BLM.


    • You are absolutely right. The control of western and northwestern lands in the United States and Canada is what the Conventon for Biological Diversity was all about. This is such a scam against the American people and our presumed ignorance and inability to put the pieces of this together. All major wealth in the world is somehow connnected to those families who made their money from energy.


  9. The environmental impact of oil and gas extraction is highly negative because it is toxic to almost all forms of life. Oil and gas production requires large amounts of water and to meet this requirement the activities of exploration and production, especially the fracturing process, require (and remove) surface or groundwater supplies from nearby agricultural or domestic users, which reduces the productivity of these operations or halts them. Hydraulic fracturing uses between 1.2 and 3.5 million gallons of water per well with additional water used when wells are re-fractured. These water resources (once separated from their original environment) are rarely returned after usage, creating a permanent degradation in agricultural productivity, soil quality, and water quantity and quality and wildlife habitat. And then there is contamination of the soil and the water to consider also.


  10. it was told at least a month ago that obama wants us to be the richest country in the world as for oil and gas production and that is why they are clearing the lands of all obstatacles in their way. that is why all the predators are almost gone. it is horrible that they are this greedy . them and their co-opperatives they have in the senate and its mostly the top ones calling in favors so on n so on .hence we have today. but isn’t nice that they are so polite in their dealings and when was the public notified of any of these dealings and of so many wells . one town here in texas outlawed fracking in their city , but the damage is done, now what. how do we trust what they are giving us to drink ? this is bad . what about the horses and the wildlife what do they drink .has anyone been testing the water sites.


    • We need to vote these people O-U-T at election time, and when their terms are done, good riddance. They’ve lined their pockets enough and can retire handsomely, no need to worry about them. It is disingenuous to continue to pursue fossil fuels the way we are, and then try to sell how green we are by throwing up incompletely studied and researched solar and wind farms.


    • Cindy I don’t disagree with your sentiments here but the eradication of predators has been going on for well over a couple hundred years now; I doubt our President even is aware of them other than as photos in one of his kid’s books. He’s not an animal guy and grew up urban, where even the word “predator” has a different meaning altogether.


  11. Fracking is a very big concern to all! It destroys the environment and the wild horses and all forms of wild life. People will also be at risk :/ I live in NC and am very afraid that the congressman and other officials will try and bring it here for more revenue. I pray that this never happens. I am so sorry for the wild animals may God be with them, remember these are his creatures and if you harm them anyway there could be repercussions from the higher power, just saying……..




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