Wyoming proposes a reasonable plan for groundwater testing

June 13, 2013
Chris Merrill, 307-223-0071, chris@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org
Lauren Whittenberg, 512-691-3437, lwhittenberg@edf.org

Yesterday, Governor Matt Mead unveiled draft regulations that would establish a groundwater testing program for oil and gas operations in Wyoming. These draft rules would require oil and gas operators to conduct tests establishing the quality of groundwater around sites before drilling begins and to follow up later with tests to monitor for potential impacts.

“We are still reviewing these rules, but they appear to establish a solid, scientifically valid approach to establishing groundwater conditions in areas where oil and gas drilling will occur,” said EDF Senior Energy Policy Manager Jon Goldstein.

A scientifically valid testing program can provide a first line of defense in detecting any groundwater contamination that may occur as a result of well development activities – including both surface and subsurface activities – in order to protect public health and quickly remediate any problems that may arise.

The Wyoming proposal is similar to an industry-supported groundwater testing program adopted in Colorado early this year but appears to address several key flaws in the Colorado rule.

“It’s clear Wyoming has made an effort to learn from the experience of others,” Goldstein said.  “Wyoming regulators have proposed a program that wouldn’t cost companies a dollar more than the programs they’ve supported in other states.  The difference here is Wyoming has come up with a scientifically valid approach where others failed.”

“The Wyoming Outdoor Council thanks Governor Mead and his staff for hearing our concerns on these issues,” said Chris Merrill, associate director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “We will remain involved in this process as these rules are finalized.  The proposed language serves as a good foundation for a strong, scientifically valid program.”

The state has begun a 30-day public comment period on the draft rule and has set a public hearing on the proposed rule for June 25.    

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