By Andres Ibarra |Staff Writer|
Health may be at risk for millions of Americans due to drinking water contaminated by oil and gasoline.
“The government failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells that pose a potential threat of water contamination and environmental damage,” according to the Associated Press.
Many investigators claim that a lot of the blame falls on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) weak regulation, which allowed policies based on outdated sciences, according to the Associated Press.
“One of the factors includes increased use in hydraulic fracturing, while it may have been beneficial economically,it also increased the risk of chemicals spreading to our water supply,” as stated by the Government Accountability Office.
Fracking is a process where large quantities of sand, water, and chemicals are pumped underground in order to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow.
In response to the oil and gasoline leaking and its effect on the environment, CSUSB geology professor Sally McGill said that it affects a lot of animal life.
“If the oil leaks into the water sources, it could be harmful to the animals, both land and marine, who drink out of those water sources,” said McGill.
Biology professor Stuart Sumida said the oil leaks are just as bad for the ground water, the dirt, and the soil.
“The rocks and minerals underground could potentially absorb the oil if they are porous enough, which could be harmful to both plant life and animal life,” said Sumida.
States known for their lack of effective regulation by the BLM include New Mexico, North Dakota, Idaho, and Utah, said officials.
Among the 3,702 wells labeled as high-priority, the BLM failed to inspect 2,100, according the Associated Press.
Many environmental groups have also placed some of the blame on the Obama Administration as well saying that they need to do more to protect the environment.
BLM also acknowledged that it hasn’t updated its guidance on oil and gas and mineral trespass since 1999 and 2003 due to an executive order in 2011, which required their rules to reflect technological advances, according to the Los Angeles Daily Post.
They also told the Daily Post that it’s been unable to inspect oil and gas wells due to a low amount of staff and the lack of money.
In response to the criticism, the BLM told the Associated Press that it plans to issue new rules in regards to methane emissions and fracking.
BLM has stated that California does not seem to be unaffected since it was among the few states who have been reviewed and agreed upon the new jurisdiction.
“Most parts of the government are already pretty untrustworthy, and this doesn’t make things better for them,” said a CSUSB student.
Other states, however, have begun to see their water getting polluted, such as Pennsylvania, receiving 398 complaints regarding polluted water in 2013, according to the Associated Press.
Despite no reports in California, some people are still wary and are keeping a close eye on the situation, since it could still affect the state.