The Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission (AOGC) and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) perform inspections of well sites and other aspects of gas extraction like compressor stations and disposal sites. As a general rule of thumb, the AOGC regulates what happens below ground and things on the surface like the spacing of wells from each other and section lines. ADEQ regulates things that occur on the surface that could have an effect on the land, water, and air in the area.
There have been thousands of violations handed out to natural gas related companies in the Fayetteville Shale since the first wells were drilled in 2004. These violations range from smaller issues like improper signage to egregious and harmful ones like illegally dumping toxic waste and operating fluid pits and other facilities without permits. Many times inspections reveal sites being out of compliance but often companies are allowed to correct the problem without punishment. Fines that are handed out are usually very low, too low to deter companies from risking being fined.
Until 2011, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality only performed inspections at well sites on a complaint basis. From 2004 through 2010, there were over 3,000 wells drilled and fracked in the Fayetteville Shale while only about 600 inspections were performed by ADEQ inspectors. In 2011 ADEQ was given money from natural gas leases held by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to hire four new inspectors and three new administrative staff members. This increased the number of inspections however many of these extra inspections have occurred on the Game & Fish Commission land that has been leased for gas production.
Report by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel regarding ADEQ inspections of natural gas activity in the Fayetteville Shale area.