Oil and gas drilling is permitted on some land owned by the federal government. Rules are in place to ensure - allegedly - the work is done safely and in an environmentally acceptable manner.
It appears some of the regulations are enforced, to a point. According to a report by the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, 2,025 citations for rules infractions were issued to 335 companies involved in drilling during a 13-year period in 17 states.
Fines were levied in just 6 percent of those cases. Less than $275,000 was collected from companies guilty of breaking the rules.
Obviously, more needs to be known about the scope and severity of the violations involved. At first glance, however, it appears those guilty of infractions were merely slapped on the wrists - and not very hard, at that.
Committee members, both Democrats and Republicans, should follow up on the report. It matters not how stiff the rules are if there is little financial incentive to abide by them.