BMP of Oil and Gas Development

Wyoming Laws

This section includes links to Wyoming statutes, regulations, guidelines, and policies related to oil and gas surface operations.

Oil and gas development in Wyoming is governed primarily by statutory provisions in Title 30, Chapter 5 Oil and Gas of the Wyoming Code (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 30-5-100, et seq.) and rules promulgated by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC).  The WOGCC also handles the drilling permit process and ensures industry compliance with statewide oil and gas laws and regulations.  Air quality and water quality provisions of Wyoming’s Environmental Quality Act (§ 35-11-100, et seq.) play important roles in regulating the environmental impacts of oil and gas development throughout the state as well.  Additionally, the WOGCC and other state agencies, like the Wyoming Air Quality Division, issue various guidelines and policy statements to guide the future of oil and gas development in Wyoming and to assist regulated industries understand and comply with Wyoming’s statutes and regulations.  See the following for more information and links to the above.

Wyoming Oil and Gas Statutes

General laws governing oil and gas in Wyoming are found in Title 30, Chapter 5 Oil and Gas of the Wyoming Code (§ 30-5-100, et seq.).  Chapter 5 creates the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) and invests authority in the WOGCC to regulate oil and gas development throughout the state, handle the drilling permit process, and enforce Wyoming’s statutes and regulations.  Specifically, the WOGCC appoints a State Oil and Gas Supervisor to ensure industry compliance with laws and regulations.   

Articles of particular relevance in Title 30 and Chapter 5 include:

Entry to Conduct Oil and Gas Operations (§ 30-5-400, et seq.) – contains various surface owner protection provisions, including surface owner notification requirements, requirements for negotiations and agreements between surface owners and operators, limitations on surface disturbance, procedures for reclamation, and plans for the payment of damages. 

Enhanced Oil Recovery (§ 30-8-101) – created the Enhanced and Improved Oil Recovery Commission and charged it, in conjunction with the University of Wyoming and other oil and gas industry research entities, to establish a research program at the University focusing on issues related to oil and gas recovery technology.  More information on the Commission and its research can be found on the Commission’s website.

Wyoming Oil and Gas Regulations

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) issues state-wide rules and regulations to govern the development of oil and gas in Wyoming.  Current WOGCC rules can be accessed through the links below or through the "Rules" page on the WOGCC’s website (http://wogcc.state.wy.us/).

Current WOGCC rules, of particular relevance:

Chapter 1. Definitions – provides definitions of important terms in the Wyoming code.

Chapter 2. General Rules – defines the scope of the Wyoming rules, which is to prevent waste and to conserve oil and gas, as well as to protect human health and the environment through the utilization of proven methods which are designed to avoid contamination of the soils and water at drilling or producing locations.  The Wyoming rules specify that compliance with state rules does not relieve the owner or operator of the obligation to comply with applicable federal, local or other state permits or regulatory requirements.

Chapter 3. Operational and Drilling Rules – includes rules related to location of wells; bonding and other financial sureties; applications for permits needed to drill, operate and abandon wells; drilling rules; hydraulic fracturing, baseline water sampling, and flaring and venting.

Chapter 4. Environmental Rules – includes most of the rules for protection of human health and the environment by avoiding contamination of soils and waters at drilling and producing locations.  The section includes rules for  underground injection control and enhanced recovery and disposal projects.

Wyoming Oil and Gas Policy and Guidance

The following is a collection of various guidelines and policy statements issued by the WOGCC and other Wyoming state agencies intended to guide the development of oil and gas throughout the state in an environmentally conscious manner and to increase understanding of and compliance with current oil and gas laws and regulations. 

WOGCC Environmental Guidelines – The WOGCC maintains an "Environmental" page on its website that offers links to various WOGCC-issued documents, including guidelines, policy statements, and handbooks, with information on environmental issues and best management practices related to oil and gas development.  The webpage also includes links to documents issued by federal agencies, such as the EPA, and documents produced by environmental agencies in other states.

Documents of particular relevance include:

WOGCC Pit Closure Guidelines – these guidelines are intended to supplement WOGCC regulations governing the closure of unlined pits. Their objective is to return the surface of the land that was used for production activity to its original use.

WOGCC Water Sampling and Testing Guidelines – these guidelines contain preferred methods for water sampling at operation sites and methods of laboratory analysis.

WOGCC Reclamation Guidelines – these guidelines are intended to supplement WOGCC rules governing reclamation procedures with the goal of returning surface land used for oil and gas exploration, drilling, or production activity to its original use. 

WOGCC Spill Cleanup Guidelines – these guidelines establish spill cleanup standards for oil and gas exploration and production sites and employ an oil contaminated soil remediation ranking system and a ranking system to evaluate the environmental sensitivity of the impacted site.

Memorandum of Agreement between the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the WOGCC, and the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office – The agreement defines the permitting and administrative responsibilities of the WOGCC, the WDEQ, and the State Engineer regarding water resources related to oil and gas development throughout the state.

Jonah Interagency Mitigation and Reclamation Office Charter – a subsidiary of the Bureau of Land Management, the Jonah Interagency Office (JIO) provides overall management of on-site field monitoring and off-site mitigation activities at the Jonah Natural Gas Field in west-central Wyoming.  The JIO represents an innovative approach that encourages industry to minimize its development footprint, maximize recovery of natural gas, and speed up the reclamation process.  The JIO Charter establishes the overarching land management, mitigation, and reclamation goals of the JIO. 

Powder River Basin Interagency Working Group Charter and Memorandum of Understanding – the Powder River Basin Interagency Working Group was established to address and discuss issues of common concern among government agencies involved in the permitting and monitoring of natural gas development in the Powder River Basin.  The Group works to develop best management strategies for environmentally sound energy development and monitors the impact of natural gas operations and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies.  The Charter and the Memorandum establish the Groups management goals and strategies.    

Wyoming Air Quality Statutes, Regulations, and Guidance

§ 35-11-102 of the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act states:
"Whereas pollution of the air, water and land of this state will imperil public health and welfare, create public or private nuisances, be harmful to wildlife, fish and aquatic life, and impair domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational and other beneficial uses; it is hereby declared to be the policy and purpose of this act to enable the state to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution; to preserve, and enhance the air, water and reclaim the land of Wyoming; to plan the development, use, reclamation, preservation and enhancement of the air, land and water resources of the state; to preserve and exercise the primary responsibilities and rights of the state of Wyoming; to retain for the state the control over its air, land and water and to secure cooperation between agencies of the state, agencies of other states, interstate agencies, and the federal government in carrying out these objectives."
Air quality in Wyoming is governed by § 35-11-200, et seq. of the Environmental Quality Act.  The Act establishes the Wyoming Air Quality Division (WAQD), provides for the development of emissions standards, and requires permitting procedures for entities emitting air pollutants.

Regulations consistent with the implementation of the Environmental Quality Act are promulgated by the WAQD and can be accessed through the WAQD’s website.

Wyoming Air Quality Division Oil and Gas Guidance Documents – these documents include guidelines and clarifications issued by the Wyoming Air Quality Division regarding oil and gas industry air quality permits and emissions standards. Of particular interest is:

Oil and Gas Production Facilities Chapter 6, Section 2 Permitting Guidance – Wyoming Department Of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division (2007) – This Chapter 6, Section 2 guidance document is designed to familiarize oil and gas production operators with the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations permitting process.

Wyoming Water Quality Statutes, Regulations, and Guidance

Water quality in Wyoming is governed by § 35-11-300, et seq. of the Environmental Quality Act.  The Act establishes the Wyoming Water Quality Division (WWQD), provides for the development of general water quality standards, and requires the establishment of a permitting process for entities producing water pollutants.

Provisions of particular interest include:  

Oil Field Waste Disposal Facilities (§ 35-11-306) – restricts the location for construction or operation of any commercial oil field waste disposal facility and establishes bonding and financial assurance requirements for such waste facilities for the purpose of assuring an adequate source of funds to provide for environmental monitoring and control, reclamation, and damages.

Wyoming Wetlands Act (§§ 35-11-308–311) – declares Wyoming’s wetlands to be one of the state’s most important natural resources, the protection, development, and management of which is essential for the long-term public health, safety, general welfare, and economic security of Wyoming’s citizens.  The Act calls for a balance between industrial development (including energy development) and the preservation of wetlands. 

Regulations consistent with the implementation of water quality provisions of the Environmental Quality Act can be accessed through the WWQD’s website.

WOGCC Water Sampling and Testing Guidelines – these guidelines contain preferred methods for water sampling at operation sites and methods of laboratory analysis.

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