Federal regulators demand that the rest of us, including individuals, companies and states, comply with rules intended to safeguard the environment. Doing that is not a priority in Washington, however.
Any energy company caught not performing environmental inspections on 2,000 oil and gas wells would be put out of business by the bureaucrats. Any state guilty of the same failure would find its authority over drilling canceled by the federal government.
But the federal Bureau of Land Management has failed to inspect more than 2,100 wells on federal and American Indian lands - despite having declared them to be high risks for environmental damage.
Government's failure to obey its own rules comes even as President Barack Obama plans expensive new ones for the rest of us.
Last year it was revealed that while most companies in the private sector face stiff fines if they accidentally kill endangered birds, the White House gave the wind energy industry a pass. Though wind energy turbines kill thousands of protected birds each year, the government had not penalized a single company.
This week it was disclosed that the National Park Service spent $3 million for construction that damaged an Iowa burial site considered sacred by some American Indians. Though the violations of federal law were discovered in 2009, the government took no action until a few months ago.
Then came the Government Accountability Office report that 3,702 wells drilled on federal or Indian land from 2009-2012 have been labeled "high priority." More than 2,100, including some wells in West Virginia and Ohio, have never been inspected.
Bureau of Land Management officials are supposed to handle the inspections. The agency itself considers some wells "high priority" because of potential water contamination and other environmental hazards.
Again, no individual, company or state in America could get away with what the BLM has done. But because it is a federal agency, no one will suffer meaningful repercussions.
And worse, no one - not in the White House, not in Congress and not in the courts - will do anything about it. They will be too busy establishing new directives for the rest of us to follow - and punishing us when we fail to do so.