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Well Setbacks Mapping in Laramie County, WY

We recently worked with the Wyoming Outdoor Council (WOC) to produce a series of maps and some simple spatial analyses to support their conservation work. The maps depict four different proposed sizes of oil and gas well setbacks using Laramie County, WY as a case study. A setback is the distance required between oil and gas operations and occupied structures such as homes and hospitals. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission heard public testimony on Monday, March 9th, 2015 regarding a proposed setback rule change that would increase the current minimum setback requirement from 350 feet between a well and an occupied structure to 500 feet.

The proposal was initially for a 750 ft setback, but was since backed down to 500 ft. The Wyoming Outdoor Council and several other individuals and organizations proposed a 1,320 ft setback (1/4 mile). WOGCC decided to take another month to review public comments and vote on the issue at their April meeting. As part of our analysis, we considered four setback distances: 500, 750, 1,000, and 1,320 ft. WOC gave an oral testimony in addition to submitting written comments with our maps and findings. Here are some of the key findings, and you can view or download the maps below:


Setbacks in Laramie County by the Numbers
500 ft 750 ft 1,000 ft 1,320 ft
Percent of Total County Land Area Affected 6.7% 8.8% 11.9% 16.1%
Percent of Total County Land Area Available for Drilling 93.3% 91.2% 88.1% 83.9%
Land Area Available for Well Pads (acres) 1,605,120 1,569,280 1,514,880 1,442,560
Percent of Existing Wells within given setback distance of an occupied structure 1.0% 4.8% 6.3% 11.7%

500 ft Well Setbacks

750 ft Well Setbacks

1,000 ft Well Setbacks

1,320 ft Well Setbacks

NWF portraits post

“Portraits” Featured in NWF’s Wildlife Promise Blog

Evan, founder and director of Western Sense, authored a guest blog for the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Promise Blog this past summer. Check it out here! The post introduced the organization (then named Forever West Alliance but since changed to Western Sense), and described our project Portraits of the Real Wyoming. We hope to continue this collaboration into the future, and plan to write more guest posts soon.