CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead's proposal to require groundwater testing at oil and gas drilling sites has gotten good reviews from environmental advocates, landowners and industry representatives.
Mead released a state energy policy on Monday that includes baseline groundwater testing before drilling occurs.
Richard Garrett of the Wyoming Outdoor Council said any step to protect groundwater is welcome.
"Public discourse and public involvement can create public trust, and to this extent, baseline testing moves us in that direction," he said.
Environmental groups have long sought such testing.
The goal is to avoid finger-pointing about groundwater contamination near petroleum development, the type of controversy that has swirled around the Pavillion area for more than five years.
Groundwater testing is a priority for property owners considering leasing land to energy developers, said Paul Cook of the Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition.
"If you are dependent on your own domestic water — meaning you are not on city water — and your water becomes contaminated, your property value essentially goes down to zero," he said.
Baseline testing could help the industry make its case that drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, are safe, said Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
"It is a way for us to continue to show we want to be up-front about the process and we want to protect the environment," he said.
The requirement could be a burden for smaller companies, he said, but some larger ones are already doing water tests.