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Setback Rule Review A Priority For Oil And Gas Commission

Willow Belden

Interim Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson says he's making it a priority to review Wyoming's setback rules.

Setback rules govern how close oil and gas development can be to things like houses and streams. The current limit is 350 feet.

At an Oil and Gas Commission meeting Tuesday night in Casper, several residents said they'd like to see the distance raised to a mile, because of concerns about potential health impacts of energy production. Watson says they're asking a lot.

"Based on rules and statutes, a mile does not seem reasonable. I'd have to look at it closer, but to go from 350 feet to 5,280 feet – that's quite a big jump," Watson says.

Watson adds that changing the rules could take a long time, in part because 25 percent of the Commission's staff retired last year.

"I think it's more important to regulate the rules that we have,” he says. “We'll work on new rules, but we don't have the staff to do an agency rule change or even go through the rules and decide on that kind of stuff."

Watson says he's doing an informal survey to find out how many wells are actually close to things like buildings and streams.  He says the commission will take public comments before recommending any rule changes. ?

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