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Wyoming County and Municipal Law
In Wyoming, cities and towns have the power to regulate oil and gas through the zoning power granted by state statute (WSA § 15-1-601 (2010). Under the statute, they may divide the city or town into districts and within those districts may regulate and restrict the erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair or use of buildings, structures or land (WSA § 15-1-601(a)(i)(E) (2010)).
This power is, however, limited for counties as WSA §18-5-201 (2010) expressly prohibits county zoning resolutions or plans from preventing use or occupancy of lands necessary for mineral extraction. Without a similar prohibition, cities have started to regulate oil and gas development.
18-5-201. Authority vested in board of county commissioners; inapplicability of chapter to incorporated cities and towns and mineral resources.
To promote the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the county, each board of county commissioners may regulate and restrict the location and use of buildings and structures and the use, condition of use or occupancy of lands for residence, recreation, agriculture, industry, commerce, public use and other purposes in the unincorporated area of the county. However, nothing in W.S. 18-5-201 through 18-5-207 shall be construed to contravene any zoning authority of any incorporated city or town and no zoning resolution or plan shall prevent any use or occupancy reasonably necessary to the extraction or production of the mineral resources in or under any lands subject thereto.
Although “mineral resources” is not specifically defined to include oil and gas, very few counties have any laws related to oil and gas extraction.
Campbell County is located in northeastern Wyoming and includes the city of Gillette. The zoning code specifically states that farming, ranching and mineral extraction uses are exempt from the regulations.
Johnson County is located in north central Wyoming and is part of the Powder River Basin. While there are no specific regulations relating to oil and gas, the county has developed a land use plan which identifies oil and gas development as an industrial use and discusses the importance of minimizing adverse affects of oil and gas development while at the same time preserving the economic and social values of oil and gas development. It states in the Land Use Plan that the following criteria should be addressed more specifically and incorporated within any future zoning regulations for Johnson County.
• noise, light and dust impacts near residential areas
• vehicular speeds and other safety factors on county roads
• damage to roads, bridges, culverts and other county facilities
• minimizing and properly constructing new accesses onto county roads
• shielding equipment yards in highly visible and residential areas
• consolidation of transmission lines, utility trunks, access roads and other elements of infrastructure to minimize effects on the landscape
• minimizing emissions and air pollution
• controlling discharges and water pollution
• controlling the existence and spread of noxious weeds
• reclaiming areas disturbed during construction and restoring areas back to their original land use upon completion of industrial activities
Sublette County Zoning Districts
Sublette County is located in western Wyoming and includes the city of Pinedale. According to the county website, oil and gas is an important part of the Sublette County industry. The County has no building codes or regulations pertaining to oil and gas other than authorized zoning districts, and those restrictions all appear to be for post-extraction uses. In Heavy Industrial Zones, Oil and Gas Production Waste Facilities are a permitted use. Also in the Heavy Industrial Zone, mineral manufacturing, refining and processing is a permitted use. There is no definition of what mineral manufacturing, refining and processing is so it may not apply to oil and gas. In light industrial zones, oil and gas production waste facilities are a conditional use.
Definitions: Oil & Gas Production Waste Disposal Facility. A facility where oil and gas production waste materials including water and solids produced during oil and gas production and/or are disposed. This includes disposal pits, freeze thaw operations, contaminated soil and/or sludge treatment and evaporation ponds used for production water disposal.
The city of Gillette is located in the North Eastern portion of Wyoming in Campbell County. Gillette is a small city centrally located in an area with development of large quantities of coal, oil, and coal bed methane gas. The city calls itself the "Energy Capital of the Nation". The city does have some local regulations related to oil and gas. Visit the city webpage; contact the city council; and view the full text city ordinances.
Provisions of Particular Interest include:
CHAPTER TWELVE: OIL AND WATER WELLS.
No well of any type or nature shall be dug or drilled, nor shall any work in preparation therefore be commenced within the boundaries of the city, unless and until the person desiring to dig or drill such well has first applied for and received a permit allowing the commencement of drilling operations. All applicable codes, ordinances and statutes adopted by the City shall be enforced including Uniform Building Code, Uniform Fire Code, Uniform Plumbing Code, Uniform Mechanical Code, National Electrical Code, Design Criteria Manual, Drainage Criteria Manual, Construction Standards, Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, and NFPA-59A. (Ord. No. 629, 1, 8-18-70 ; Ord. 3148, 4-2-2001)
12-2. Application; Insurance; Agreement; Deposit.
B. Insurance- all applicants must have a minimum one million dollars of liability insurance.
C. Agreement- applicants must sign an agreement that (1) no children or spectators will be endangered and will be kept at least 100 feet away at all times either by fencing or security person on site 24 hours per day (2) the area must be properly reclaimed within 9 months of completion of drilling to the same or better condition as existed prior to drilling (3) the cost of reclamation falls with the applicant (4) no streets, roads or alleys will be blocked, even temporarily (5) the city may inspect for safety at any time and (6) all equipment shall at all times be operated in a prudent fashion.
D. Deposit - $16,500 in lawful currency or by letter of credit or by a commercial surety bond for each well, which amount shall be forfeited upon the violation by the applicant, of any of the terms of the agreement
12-3. Provisions Covering Operation of Wells.
A. Existing wells, completed by the effective date of this ordinance, shall be operated, serviced and maintained in conformity with all City ordinances governing the permit issued, including bonding requirements, safety and the use of rights of way and all ordinances concerning building and electrical codes and safety, and in conformity with all regulations of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
B. Agreement required as above. Also required is a produced water discharge plan which must be submitted to the City Engineer and approved prior to construction of the discharge system. Water discharged from CBM well production shall be put to a secondary beneficial use where possible. Such uses might include wildlife habitat restoration or maintenance of water levels at McManamen Park, Fishing Lake or other sites, or irrigation or tree watering, or for aquifer recharge or potable supply as applicable. Water provided for such uses shall not be subject to any charge by the operator to the City. If discharged to the surface, water should not negatively impact any downstream user by decreasing channel capacity, pond storage capacity, or related storm water concerns. There shall be no surface discharge of water on the lease surface other than into storm or other drainage structures channels or existing natural drainages.
The City of Evanston is in the southwest corner of Wyoming in Uinta County. To visit the City website click here.
Provisions of Particular interest include:
Chapter 16-30 - Pollution through fracture and acidizing.
In the completion of an oil and gas, injection, disposal or service well, where acidizing or fracturing processes are used, no oil, gas or other deleterious substances or pollutants shall be permitted to pollute any surface or subsurface fresh waters.
Chapter 16-31 - Swabbing and bailing.
In swabbing, bailing or purging a well, all deleterious substances removed from the bore hole shall be placed in appropriate tanks or pits, and no substances shall be permitted to pollute any surface or subsurface fresh waters
No person shall deposit, drain or divert into or upon any public highway, street or alley, drainage ditch, storm drain, sewer, gutter, paving, creek, river, lake or lagoon any oil or oily liquid with petroleum content or any mud, rotary mud, sand, water or salt water, or in any manner permit, by seepage, overflow or otherwise, any of such substances to escape from any property owned, leased or controlled by such person and flow or be carried into or upon any public highway, street or alley, drainage ditch, storm drain, sewer, gutter, paving, creek, river, lake or lagoon within the City.
Chapter 16-11 – Disposal of Salt Water and other Deleterious Substances. Every permittee under this chapter shall make sufficient provisions for the safe disposal of salt water or other deleterious substances which he may bring to the surface of the earth. Such disposal shall not result in pollution of the waters of the City and shall not result in any other environmental hazard and shall incorporate the best available techniques and equipment.
In the event of any leakage or spillage of any pollutant or deleterious substance, whatever the cause thereof, the permittee shall cause the oil and gas inspector to be notified thereof promptly. If, in the judgment of the oil and gas inspector, such leakage or spillage presents a potential environmental hazard, he may issue whatever corrective orders he deems appropriate and may require the appropriate testing of the surface and subsurface for pollutant incursion, the cost of such tests to be borne by the permittee.
Chapter 16-17 – Well Location: No permit shall be issued for the drilling of an original well or the reentry of an abandoned well in other than L-I, H-I or A-1 zones, after obtaining a conditional use permit as required by chapter 24 of this Code, and at any location which is nearer than two hundred feet from any permanent residence or commercial building, or which is closer than three hundred feet to a producing fresh water well.
Chapter 16-18 – FENCES: Any person who completes any well as a producer shall have the obligation to enclose such well, together with its surface facilities, by a fence sufficiently high and properly built so as to ordinarily keep persons and animals out the enclosure, with all gates thereto to be kept locked when the permittee or his employees are not within the enclosure; provided, that in non-platted areas the oil and gas inspector, at his discretion, may waive the requirement of any fence or may designate the type of fence to be erected. Fences must be kept locked at all times workers of the permittee are not present; a duplicate set of keys to such lock shall be filed with the oil and gas inspector.
Pine Haven, WY
Pine Haven is located in Crook County, Wyoming, next to Keyhole State Park and Reservoir, South of Devils Tower National Monument. There is significant oil and gas development in this area of the state. The County Ordinances are available on the Pine Haven County Website.
5-1 § 4 (A) Application for Drilling. Application. Every person, firm or corporation desiring a permit allowing the commencement of drilling operations shall file a written application therefore with the Town Clerk. All applications shall show or include the following information:
5-1 § 5 Operation of Wells. All oil and gas wells drilled in the Town must meet the following requirements:
(4) Visual Mitigation. The immediate area around the building shall be fenced and landscaped and planted in order to enhance the appearance of the site. Sites shall be screened from adjoining residential, commercial or office districts on adjacent lots through the planting and maintenance of 6 - 8 ft. tall live trees as a visual screen on all affected sides of the well site.
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