Utah County and Municipal Law
Several county and municipal governments in Utah have enacted regulations and ordinances, to supplement the applicable federal and state laws and regulations for managing oil and gas development in their jurisdictions.
Not every county or municipality in Utah has chosen to implement such regulations, and among those that have, some address oil and gas issues in more detail than others. The following are examples of local oil and gas regulations currently in place in Utah. Links to the full text of each county’s or municipality’s regulations are provided below, but provisions of particular interest are identified as well.
Utah grants local governments the authority to supplement the state and federal laws with its own regulations for oil and gas development. Utah authorizes counties to enact any ordinance necessary to carry forth its duties so long as they are not repugnant to state law. UCA § 17-53-223(1)(a) (2010). Several counties have adopted extensive requirements including permitting and BMPs.
Carbon County Oil and Gas Provisions: Carbon County is located between Duchesne and Emery Counties in North Eastern Utah. Carbon County has a significant amount of oil and gas development. The Uinta Basin encompasses the eastern portion of the county and there is a large natural gas field in most of the western portion of the county. Visit the Carbon County website. Contact the Carbon County commissioners.
Provisions of particular interest from the Carbon County Development Code include:
Table 5.1 – Lists Oil and Gas Wells as a conditional use in all zones
except WS (Water Shed), SL (Scotfield Lakeshore Zone), and HMC (Historic
Mining Camp Zone).
§ 3.3.31 - Site Plan Review: When a project requires Committee approval, a plan to restrict noise may be required and the Committee may set limits on noise.
§ 5.1.2 - Conditional Use Permits: When deciding whether to issue a permit, the Committee may consider noise levels and mitigation measures.
Davis County Oil and Gas Provisions: Davis County is located in north central Utah on the West side of the Great Salt Lake. There is no large-scale oil and gas development in Davis County.
Provisions of particular interest from the Davis County Code include:
Chapter 14.12 deals with excavation of natural resources in general, but does not specifically deal with oil and gas. There do not appear to be any provisions in the code that directly deal with oil and gas regulation.
§ 14.12.010 Purpose and Intent – describes the purpose of the ordinance and that while mineral extraction is a value to the County and society, it should be done in a way that minimizes environmental impacts.
§ 14.12.020 Enforcement – describes enforcement mechanisms for the provisions of the chapter
§ 14.12.040 Natural Resources Excavation Permit – requires a special permit for all natural resource excavation activities. The permit must include a land use plan and reclamation plan.
§ 14.12.050 Application Procedures – describes the procedure for applying for a natural resources excavation permit. The operator must provide the Planning Commission with general information including the location of the mineral and property, an analysis of surrounding land uses, site analysis, a mining operation plan, and a reclamation plan. The application must be approved by the County Engineer, the County Planning Commission, and the County Commission.
§ 14.12.070 Revocation or Modification of Permit – describes the process for revocation or modification of a natural resources excavation permit. A natural resources excavation permit may be revoked or modified if the operator violates its terms.
§ 14.12.100 Special Provisions – describes special Provisions for resource excavation including buffer distances, permitted hours of operation, mitigation of noise and vibration, dust abatement, fencing off hazardous areas, astheics, and monitoring or air and water quality.
§ 14.12.110 Reclamation – describes requirements for reclamation. The objective is to return the land to a state that is compatible with past, present, or probable future uses while minimizing environmental impacts and hazards to public safety and welfare while also complying with state and federal Provisions
§ 14.12.110 Provision of Surety – Requires operators to post a bond to cover the cost of reclamation and describes the requirements for such bonds
Duchesne County Oil and Gas Regulations: Duchesne County is in North Eastern Utah. The Uinta Basin covers most of the county. In addition, a large portion of the county is occupied by the Uintah / Ouray Indian Reservation. There is a large amount of oil development in Duchesne County, particularly in the areas surrounding the Indian Reservation. Visit the Duchesne County website. Contact the Public Land Use Planning committee members.
The provisions of interest for Duchesne County are as follows:
1. The site must be fenced to sustain safety, and prevent access by livestock, wildlife, and unauthorized personnel;
2. Mandatory compliance with State of Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM) General Rules, including submittal of the DOGM application and DOGM approval to the County prior to the receipt of water;
3. Mandatory odor control;
4. Must be located a minimum of five thousand two hundred eighty feet two miles from any state or federal highway, city, town, or primary residential use (as determined by the Duchesne County tax rolls) and at least one mile from the property line of a parcel containing a primary residential use, unless written consent to locate closer is obtained from the owner of the property containing the primary residential use or state route or US highway;
5. Produced water disposal ponds shall be limited by number, on each Conditional Use Permit to the number of ponds that would be under construction within eighteen months and completed within three years of permit approval, and cannot be enlarged or modified until the issue is re-presented to the Planning Commission for a new Conditional Use Permit and the enlargement or modification is approved.
6. Mandatory bonding or other assurance shall be furnished to the county, prior to the receipt of water, in the amount of $25,000.00 per acre of pond or open pit 125% of a contractor’s estimate to remove buildings and tanks, reclaim roads and driving surfaces, remove fencing and re-vegetate the site to a standard agreed to by the property owner and the County. The contractor’s estimate and bond amount shall be re-calculated every five years to guarantee reclamation will be accomplished. This is in addition to Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining General Rules (R649-9-9), which require bonding to treat or remove waste from the site and secure the site to prevent future contamination.
7. Prior to receipt of water, the applicant must provide Duchesne County with evidence of compliance with the Section 404 permit process administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
8. Notwithstanding the notification requirements of Section 17.52.030, mailed notice of the public hearing shall be given to all property owners within two miles of the parcel proposed for the use.
9. An operator shall be on site at all times for monitoring of the site during receiving operations. The facility shall be secured against entry when an operator is not present.
Section 17.52.054 Oil & Gas Drilling/Production Facilities:
1. Drilling and Production facilities shall be constructed in a manner that minimizes damage to watersheds, vegetation and natural resources.
2. For use of County roads, an encroachment permit or road use permit shall be required and must accompany any application for a conditional use permit.
3. All facilities shall be constructed in a manner so as to properly drain surface water to an approved location.
4. Location of any facilities for liquids, chemicals, explosives, flammable, hazardous or toxic materials shall be in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and building codes.
5. All well site pumps shall be located in a structure approved by the Planning Commission, and fenced with a six (6) foot high, locked chain link fence.
6. Well production facilities such as pumps, separators, and appurtenances, shall be painted to blend with the surroundings.
7. The well site shall be located more than six hundred sixty (660) feet from any existing dwelling.
8. The applicant shall have been issued an approval or permit to drill from the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining or other State or Federal agency.
9. A reclamation plan shall be submitted for each proposed mine, well site, pipeline, excavation, roadway, and area of disturbance. Roadways may remain in place upon capping the well(s) with approval of the County Commission. Particular attention will be given to stream crossings.
10. Each mine, exploratory or production well shall be accessed by a designated County road or a private road, which road has been approved by the County as to the quality of construction, and for which there is adequate documentation guaranteeing the operator(s) of the well and County staff, emergency providers, and law enforcement officers a perpetual right of access until such road is abandoned and reclaimed.
11. All production or exploratory well sites shall be served by sanitary facilities for employees, as approved by the sanitary sewer authority.
12. All roadway improvements, mines, well sites, and other areas of disturbance shall be reclaimed in conformance with plans submitted.
13. A performance guarantee shall be submitted, in an amount required by the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, with Duchesne County named as an additional obligee.
14. Nothing in these regulations shall prohibit a landowner from requiring the developer of an energy extraction or transmission project to complete inventories of the site for forage, timber, wildlife, objects of historic or scientific interest, or substantial unanticipated detrimental affects to the value(s) of the property, and providing for a plan to mitigate for these affects.
Emery County Oil and Gas Provisions: Emery County is located in east central Utah. The eastern part of Emery County has three overlapping sedimentary basins, but there is not yet a high level of oil and gas development in that area. The northwestern portion of Emery County, near the city of Castle Dale has a high level of natural gas development. Visit the Emery County website. Contact the Emery County commissioners..
The Zoning Ordinance for Emery County, developed in 2004, defines Oil and Gas operations as a Type 2 Conditional Use in all zoning areas. A Conditional Use permit is needed. Oil and Gas Wells may be given a Type 1 Conditional Use permit. The difference between the permit types is that the Type 1 permit may be issued by the Zoning Administrator, while a Type 2 permit must be accepted by the Countywide Planning Commission. (See Section 10-2)
Article II of the Zoning Ordinance defines oil and gas uses as follows:
Oil and Gas Operations- as any structure, facility or activity which is constructed on or disturbs land in association with oil and gas drilling, production or waste water treatment and disposal, including but not necessarily limited to gathering and collector systems, compressors, wells, tanks, tank batteries, pits, associated power lines, access roads for ingress and egress and pipelines.
Gas and Oil Wells -any operation utilizing equipment which advances a borehole into strata for the purpose of discovery, development, and\or production of oil or gas.
Provisions of particular interest include:
§ 9-4-1 Declaration of Legislative Intent defines noise as a nuisance, and industries that will cause excessive noise are encouraged to locate in the Mining, Grazing, and Recreation zone of the county.
§11-2-1 Gas and Oil Wells describes information required in addition to that required for other permit applications
(1) Copies of Application for Permit to Drill or equivalent document
filed with the primary permitting agency, and all supplemental public
documents filed by the applicant with such agency.
§ 11-3-5 Oil and Gas Operation – describes the requirements for an oil or gas excavation permit
Required Information – Operators must submit:
Grand County Oil and Gas Provisions: Grand County is located on the Eastern border of Utah and encompasses Interstate 70, Arches National Park, the City of Moab and a portion of the Uintah/ Ouray Indian Reservation. The northern part of the county encompasses the Uintah Basin. In that area there is a high level of oil development. The southern part of the county is part of the Paradox Basin and has much less oil and gas development. Visit the Grand County website. Contact the Grand County planning department.
Provisions of Grand County Land Use Code of particular interest include:
Table 3.1 shows that Oil and Gas Extraction is permitted by right on public lands zoned Residential RG (Range and Grazing) and Non-Residential HI (Heavy Industrial), however is subject to the use specific standards of § 3.2.4. In those same zoning areas, oil and gas extraction is a conditional use if the land is private and requires issuance of a permit. In other zoning categories, oil and gas extraction is not permitted.
§ 3.2.4(E) Oil and Gas Drilling – States that oil and gas drilling must comply with all federal and state laws and that the county is a referral agency for state and federal permits.
Grand County defines extraction as uses that extract minerals and other solids and liquids from land and includes mining and oil and gas operations. Therefore, sectin 3.2.4(D) also applies.
Mining and extractive uses shall comply with the following standards:
HAUL ROUTES and RESTRICTIONS:
§ 6.12 Operational Performance Standards - All Grand County uses will comply with the noise regulations, which prohibit such noise at bounding property lines that would interfere with the use and enjoyment of neighboring property.
Millard County Oil and Gas Provisions (click on "Zoning Ordinances"): Millard County is located in western central Utah. There is not significant oil and gas development in Millard County. Visit the Millard County website. Contact the Millard County commissioners.
Section 10-15-1 – Land use Matrix
According to section 10-5-4 a conditional use is a use that is not inconsistent with the primary purposes of a zone district, but which may be appropriate in the zone only if they are located, designed and conducted in a manner that minimizes potential conflicts with permitted and other conditional uses within the zone. Conditional uses are only allowed upon approval of the planning commission and/or the county commissioners as described in 10-7-5.
According to 10-7-6, a conditional use will not be allowed unless the use furthers the public good. The location must be necessary or desirable and unreasonable effects to health or safety are prohibited. In addition, the use must comply with specific requirements listed in the code.
Sanpete County Oil and Gas Provisions: Sanpete County is located in central Utah. Sanpete County does not have any significant oil and gas developments and the major basins do not lie within the boundaries of the county. Visit the Sanpete County website. Contact the Sanpete County Commissioners.
Provisions of particular interest of the Sanpete
Land Use Ordinances include:
Mining, Drilling, Digging, Quarrying, Etc. –
According to Appendix A- Land Use Matrix, mineral exploration and extraction is a conditional use in all zones. Therefore a permit is required. This is also explained in 14.68 which describes the requirements of a permit, application process, etc., and in 14.77 which states that a conditional use permit is required for mineral development.
Summit County is located in the interior corner of northern Utah. Cities in the county include Park City and Coalville City. The northeastern portion of the County is part of the Green River Basin. This area has some crude oil development in that area, while the in central part of the County, closer to Interstate 80, there is some natural gas development. Visit the Summit County webpage and the Planning Department.
Provisions of particular interest include:
Definitions (Chapter A)
MINING, RESOURCE EXTRACTION: An establishment engaged in activities conducted below the surface of the land for the exploration of, development of, or extraction of a mineral deposit, including, but not limited to, the surface effects of underground and in situ mining, on site transportation, concentrating, milling, evaporation, and other primary processing. Does not include strip mining.
INDUSTRIAL USES: Operations which include the storage, manufacturing and processing of agricultural or timber products, minerals extraction and production, treatment, packaging, wholesaling, fabrication, assembly and warehousing.
11-3-7 Industrial (I) -
F. Setback Requirements: Minimum setbacks for industrial uses shall
be determined through the conditional use review process.
I. Special Requirements: Special landscape screening and other buffer requirements, to the extent practical and reasonable, may be required to minimize the impact on adjacent uses. Special screening and buffer requirements shall be determined through the conditional use review processes. (Ord. 708, 12-10-2008)
According to chart 11-3-13, oil wells, natural gas wells and steam
wells are required to have low impact approval and are only then permitted
in agricultural protection districts (AP, AG-100, AG-160) and in the
industrial zone (I). They are not allowed in the highway corridor (HC),
commercial (C) and railroad industrial (RI) zoning districts
§ 11-4-9(F) Criteria For Oil Wells, Gas Wells And Steam Wells – Describes the requirements for a permit to drill an oil, gas, or steam well. Requires operators to:
The provision also states that drill sites and staging areas located on sensitive lands (such as ridgelines near residential areas or public buildings) may be subject to additional criteria such as hours of operation, screening or fencing, traffic, and lighting.
County Oil and Gas Provisions: Uintah County is located along the eastern border of Utah. The Uinta
Basin occupies most of the county. There is extensive oil and gas development
throughout Uintah County, with the exception of a northern portion of
the county near and including Dinosaur National Monument. Visit the
Uintah county website.
Contact the Uintah County planning department.
According to Chapter 17.60- oil and gas drilling is a permitted use in the mining and grazing zones (M and G-1). Oil refinery, oil shale retorts and other resource extraction and processing plants, and accessory byproducts storage, handling and shipping facilities is a conditional use in the same zones.
According to Chapter 17.64, oil and gas wells, mining and processing
of minerals is a conditional use in the RFM Zone (Recreation, Forestry,
§ 17.76.150 Extraction of Earth Products – Describes the conditions under which excavations may be allowed as a conditional use. This provision does not explicitly refer to oil and gas development; it applies to "[gravel, sand and clay pits . . . and similar excavations[.]"
County Oil and Gas Provisions (Title 16): Wasatch County is located in north central, Utah. It does not have
a high level of oil and gas development, but is surrounded by several
counties that do.
Visit the Wasatch County website.
Chapter 16.36 APPENDIX 1 LANDUSE CLASSIFICATIONS –
8530-8539 are the land use classification numbers assigned to oil and gas use. These numbers are used to classify which uses are conditional and in the particular zones where they are permitted.
In general, oil and gas operations are a conditional use in preservation
zone P-160. Oil and gas operations are not permitted in residential,
commercial, mountain, highway services, office and business park zones,
and industrial zones.
Chapter 16.15 (JBOZ): Jordanelle Basin Overlay Zone – § 16.15.12 Mining – Describes the criteria for an application for a conditional use permit for mining in the Jordanelle Basin Overlay Zone. This provision likely applies to oil and gas because the definition of mining in appendix 1 includes mining of liquids and gasses.
County Oil and Gas Provisions: Weber County is in Northern Utah along the Great Salt Lake and includes
city of Ogden, Utah. There is not significant oil and gas development
at this time in Weber County. To visit the Weber County website. Contact the Weber County commissioners.