BC-US--Oil and Gas-Federal Oversight,ADVISORY, US

EDITORS:

An Associated Press review finds that 4 in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom. There are wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.

Roughly half or more of wells on federal and Indian lands weren't checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to efforts in some communities to ban new drilling.

In New Castle, a tiny Colorado River valley community, homeowners expressed chagrin at the large number of uninspected wells, many on federal land, that dot the steep hillsides and rocky landscape. Like elsewhere in the West, water is a precious commodity in this Colorado town, and some residents worry about the potential health hazards of any leaks from wells and drilling.

BC-US-Oil and Gas-Federal Oversight, by Associated Press writers Hope Yen and Thomas Peipert, was sent in advance for release at 12:01 a.m. EDT Sunday. The story is 1,200 words. Accompanying it are photos and a graphic.

A glance takes a look at states with wells on federal or Indian lands that were deemed "higher priority" for drilling inspection by the Bureau of Land Management, and the number of them that were not checked.

There also is a downloadable dataset listing more than 13,000 oil and gas wells drilled between the 2009 and 2012 fiscal years and their location, risk status, and whether they were inspected. It is available at http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_data/well_inspections_blm_data

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The AP

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