Utah tops list of oil, gas wells not checked

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah has the highest rate of newly drilled oil and gas wells that federal officials deemed a priority but failed to inspect during a recent three-year period, according to an Associated Press review of government data.

Of the 327 wells on federal and Indian lands deemed a high priority, 67 percent weren't checked from fiscal year 2009 to 2012.

The high-priority wells operate near national forests and fragile watersheds or were otherwise deemed as high pollution risks.

Utah is one of 13 states where the Bureau of Land Management failed to inspect about 1,400 high priority wells.

The BLM says the agency has struggled to keep up with the drilling boom in recent years.

The agency also says it has struggled to offer competitive salaries in places such as Utah, where petroleum engineers can earn double what the BLM offers.

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