- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Leaders in Stillwater approved new rules for oil and gas drilling within the city to the disappointment of industry representatives.

A.J. Ferate, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, said the City Council’s approval on Monday of a new ordinance is “essentially a ban” on oil and gas drilling in the city.

“They did make very minor changes to it, but the ordinance itself is still significantly unreasonable,” Ferate said. “In spirit, it does not allow for oil and gas drilling in city limits.”

The measure applies only to new wells, and it imposes a 660-foot setback from the property line of “protected use” properties, which includes homes, churches, parks and schools. The ordinance also sets noise limits, requiring that ambient noise from drilling operations at the setback boundary be limited to 69 decibels, which is about the same noise level as a vacuum cleaner.

Bud Ground, a regulatory and environmental affairs consultant for the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, said the setback provision doesn’t take into account that operations of a given site can change. He said that the group understands the council’s concern about oil and gas activity encroaching on the lives of Stillwater residents, but that the new regulations would prohibit new drilling within city limits.

City Attorney John Dorman has said officials considered input from residents and the energy industry. Several residents such as J.D. Carlson told the City Council in January that the drilling process was bothersome and loud.

“Obviously, the oil and gas industry is vitally important, but our No. 1 priority at City Hall is to protect our citizens,” Dorman said earlier this month.

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