Wyoming Regulators: Setbacks between Wells, Housing May Be Widened

The spacing between oil and gas wells and residential homes has been an issue that several states have taken up as fracking becomes more widespread and moves closer to existing neighborhoods. Wyoming is the latest state to take up the issue. However, before the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state’s regulative entity on oil and gas, even comes out with its proposal, residents and the energy industry are already critical.

The current spacing in Wyoming between homes and oil wells is 350 feet, according to the Casper Star Tribune. That is less distance than in most other municipalities. The setback in North Dakota and Colorado is 500 feet, while Texas leaves it up to municipalities to decide the distance. Fort Worth requires a spacing of 600 feet, while in Dallas, the distance is 1,500 feet. In Coppell, Texas, wells are prohibited 1,000 feet from a residential or non-residential structure, if the structure is habitable, although the Coppell City Council may reduce the distance to 500 feet, according to the City of Coppell. 

In New York, two municipalities, Dryden and Middlefield, used zoning restrictions to ban fracking altogether within municipal boundary lines. The ban was upheld by the New York Court of Appeals, making some within the oil and gas industry worried about the export of anti-fracking sentiment into other locales.  

That is not a problem in Wyoming, however; residents there are not against fracking, according to Governor Matt Mead, who chairs the commission. However, he said in a statement that some of the residents said that the current distance permitted between residential structures and oil and gas wells is too short and needs to be lengthened. Some of those residents are concerned that the Commission will lengthen it by an insufficient amount, the Casper Star Tribune reported.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming, on the other hand, is concerned that the spacing requirements that the commission comes up with could be significantly longer, and unnecessarily restrict drilling operations. The association prefers to keep the existing rules in effect, according to reporting by the Casper Star Tribune.


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