Despite thousands of safety and environmental violations on public lands, oil and gas companies have been virtually unpunished, due to lax oversight and enforcement. A new report from House Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee finds that the Interior Department collected fines from a mere six percent of violations over the last 13 years. Now, House Democrats will deliver these findings to the Interior Department:
“It would be an overstatement to even call these fines a slap on the wrist. For oil and gas companies making billions from drilling on America’s public lands, this kind of inadequate oversight and enforcement is little more than a pin prick,” said Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey, the committee’s top Democrat …
“American citizens and workers should feel confident that oil and gas companies are conducting business in the safest manner possible, and when they don’t, that the U.S. government will step in and make sure they pay the price for their actions. This report indicates that confidence in the oversight of drilling on public lands should be limited, at best,” Markey said.
The report looked at 2,025 federal land drilling violations in 17 states, where 271 companies escaped any fees. Considering big oil made more than $137 billion in just 2011, the $275,000 in total fines amounts to pennies for the rich industry.