An oil spill on sensitive public lands is bad. Failing to report and clean up an oil spill is unlawful and deserving of tough penalties. Allowing a company to continue with its negligent ways after its first oil spill, or failing to demand that the culprit restore the public land and compensate taxpayers is government malfeasance.
Hikers in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument discovered oil that had spread over a 4-mile stretch of Little Valley Wash. The spill is the second incident of oil escaping the Upper Valley oil field, operated by Citation Oil and Gas Corp. Bureau of Land Management investigators say this one could be years old and was never reported, as required by law.
What makes the situation even worse is that nobody oil company or government agency seems willing to take responsibility. When the federal government grants a lease allowing a private company to enrich itself on the public's natural resources, the taxpayers should feel confident their representatives are keeping an eye on the drilling. The Upper Valley oil field was leased in 1964 on Dixie National Forest and BLM land that's about 10 miles west of Escalante.