Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation
How far is Gov. Matt Mead willing to go to help protect homeowners from oil and gas development? About 150 feet, and no farther, according to some state residents. Not nearly far enough to satisfy landowners who find themselves living next to industrial-sized drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities.
“If the governor thinks 150 feet is going to make a damn bit of difference with a 10-acre pad he’s out of his mind, ” Cheyenne area homeowner Wayne Lax told WyoFile.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Tuesday unanimously approved an increase in the minimum distance between drilling operations, homes and other occupied structures from 350 feet to 500 feet. It’s a much smaller increase than the 1, 320 feet that landowner advocates requested.
The “setback” distance will be measured from the outermost edge of drilling and production facilities rather than from the wellhead, as previously measured. The revised setback rule also requires operators to provide at least 30 days notice to surface owners within 1, 000 feet before construction of a well pad — but not before filing an application for permit to drill.
For each drilling location, operators must also submit to the state a plan “to mitigate reasonably foreseeable impacts to the owner(s) of Occupied Structure(s), ” according to the new rule. “At minimum, the Owner or Operator shall consider noise, light, dust, orientation of the drilling pad, and traffic in developing its plans.”
The revised rule for oil and gas development in Wyoming is an improvement, landowners and landowner advocates said. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough to assure reasonable protections from the noise, dust, traffic and hazardous emissions that are a part of today’s drilling activities.
Regarding hazardous emissions, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission concluded “that there is no definitive science or data with regard to energy development effects on human health which provides any clear guidance in setting setback requirements.”
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming has praised the setback revision — which was approved in its final form on Tuesday — as a meaningful step to avoiding conflicts with homeowners and landowners.
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