States lead the way on oil and gas regulation

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Regarding the June 9 editorial “Boom and bust”:

The energy revolution in the United States is taking place, by and large, on and under private and state lands, not those managed by the federal government.

This trend is undoubtedly a good thing for the environment since states have been regulating the oil and gas industry for many decades. Their rules are often followed on federal lands as well as state and private ones since operators don’t change practices needlessly when crossing jurisdictions. As the Government Accountability Office has recognized, states take action to continually improve their ability to keep up with technology-driven developments. A key result is that the environment, health and safety record of the shale energy revolution is solid.

Can more be done to make this regulation more effective? Of course. But not by the federal Bureau of Land Management continuing to pursue new rules on top of those that already lead to, as the GAO noted, duplication of state enforcement on the one hand and gaps on the other. The BLM should refocus on true state partnerships, allowing enforcement of state rules on all lands within states’ borders with exceptions in rare cases.

States are leading the way on oil and gas regulation. The feds should follow and learn.

Bill Whitsitt, Bigfork, Mont.

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