Oil and Gas Regulatory Roundup: Top 5 Stories of the Week

With an array of oil-rich states, each with its own set of rules and regulations, there’s no shortage of oil and gas news across the nation. Here’s a roundup of the week’s top five oil and gas stories:


  1. Wyoming: If you’re working within 75 feet of a drilling site in Wyoming, you’d better be wearing fire-resistant clothing. That’s because a new rule from state legislators now requires just that. The rule, which attracted some criticism from smaller oil companies who complained about the cost of the clothing, and support from the State’s Petroleum Association, took effect last week. It is accompanied by a rule requiring shutoff devices for diesel engines on drilling rigs.
  2. Colorado: Up before Colorodo’s state legislature is a controversial proposal to approve a 500-foot setback for any new oil wells. Environmental groups and residents have been calling for an update to the existing 350-foot setback claiming negative community impacts, including the possibility that pollutants and odours but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association isn’t a fan of the proposal. They think it will interfere with surface development and give industry more drilling headaches. Already approved by the Colorado  Oil and Gas Commission, the proposal is headed to the state legislature for approval.
  3. Ohio: A proposal in Ohio Governor John Kasich’s budget calls for more stringent reporting, testing and tracking rules for radioactive waste created by state oil and gas companies. Under the proposal, the waste created by drills – highly radioactive waste thanks to the technology used – would have to be diverted to different disposal sites or diluted with regulatory supervision. The plan, yet to be officially approved, was already underway before last week when the state revoked permits for two gas companies that emptied 20,000 gallons of wastewater into a storm sewer that feeds into a nearby watershed.
  4. Pennsylvania: There is a major overhaul coming to oil and gas rules in Pennsylvania. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection is wrapping up rule changes that, among other things, would impose restrictions on waste storage on well sites and rules on moving water to and from wells as well as plans to locate and plug old well sites that may not have been properly tracked and closed. The comprehensive rules have more review processes but if approved could take effect at the beginning of 2014.
  5. California: The Arizona-based Center For Biological Diversity has filed a complaint against the State of California for allegedly failing in its responsibility to monitor and regulate hydraulic fracturing in accordance with the state’s underground injection control program. According to the lawsuit, the program calls on California’s environmental regulators to inspect sites, conduct testing and obtain studies before subsurface injections – a key activity in ‘fracking’ – can occur. The state’s Department of Conservation hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, but did introduce some draft regulations (if minor) in December 2012.

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