oil and gas development

Oil and gas development in Wyoming has burgeoned in the last decade. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality…the Bureau of Land Management…the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission…and sometimes other agencies are all responsible for inspecting the sites. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that some stakeholders say they’re not doing a good enough job monitoring operators. But agencies say it’s not that simple. 

Several environmental groups went to district court today in Casper to argue that the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission must disclose information about chemicals being used in hydraulic fracturing around the state. Wyoming was the first state to require companies to disclose such information, yet since that law went into effect, the Oil and Gas Commission has granted almost all secrecy requests from companies claiming that some of the chemicals are proprietary information.

The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will introduce a bill that would modify bonds for seismic exploration for oil and gas on private land. If passed, companies doing any seismic exploration would have to put up a $5,000 bond for the first 1,000 acres being explored, with increases for acreage beyond that. The outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Kermit Brown of Laramie, said there have been complaints about the current regulations.

The new director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality says he’s not sure what his agency will do long-term, to address groundwater contamination in Pavillion.

The EPA tentatively linked the contamination to fracking, but the state and energy industries questioned the science behind their study, so they collected a new set of data and are now analyzing it.

DEQ Director Todd Parfitt wouldn’t say what he’ll do if the results confirm that fracking caused the contamination.

During this week's presidential debate, President Obama challenged Mitt Romney’s assertion that oil drilling on public lands was down by 14 percent. Almost as soon as they cleared the stage, a flurry of fact-checking revealed that while the rate did drop in one year—mostly due to the moratorium on drilling after the BP oil spill—drilling has increased on public lands during Obama’s tenure.