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Pumpjack in the Lander Field, Wyoming (Michael C. Rygel via Wikimedia Commons)

Wyoming: Oil, well, there goes the neighborhood

Zach Koppang | Shale Plays Media

As most of the population watches the fracking boom explode from an outsider’s perspective, there remains a segment of unsuspecting residents scattered across the nation unprepared for oil and gas to move into their backyards.

In a recent report Wyoming Public Radio examined how the increase of mining activity in the Niobrara shale play is affecting the locals. While the story may seem like old hat to people in areas such as the Bakken, it remains new and urgent for the residents of Laramie County, Wyoming.

The shale formations beneath the Rocky Mountain region are speculated to have as much production potential as the Bakken in North Dakota and Eagle Ford in Texas, even with conservative estimates. But despite the development potential, the close proximity of drilling operations to residential areas is raising a mass of concern as an influx of drilling permits are being unleashed upon the county.

Wyoming’s oil and gas regulations, many of which haven’t been updated since the 1970s, require drilling operations to be at least 350 feet away from a private residence. In areas such as Colorado, the requirement is 500 feet. In Texas, 1000 feet. The state’s flaring regulations are equally archaic.

While the cogs of bureaucracy struggle to keep up with the pace of technological progress, it seems mindfulness and open dialogue with oil companies may be the locals’ saving grace. The report states that Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson recently asked an oil company if they would be willing to move their well heads further away from a nearby residence, as well as to construct more effective noise barriers.

While this type of personal interaction with oil and gas companies is rare, it might be an indication that maybe private citizens and big oil can get along after all.

Click here to read or listen to the full story.

Related: Oil and gas industry building giant walls to try to ease impact

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