‘People have a right to quiet,’ Oklahoma lawmaker wants to reduce noise pollution at oil drilling sites

PAYNE COUNTY - They just want some peace and quiet.

That’s what some families in rural Oklahoma are saying about all the oil and gas companies drilling near their homes.

The noise is constant for some in Payne County.

“It sounds like a giant dentist drill that goes up and down in intensity and makes your teeth grind and your nerves stand on end,” Kel Pickens said.

Some of these folks who live near the drilling sites aren’t getting any of the royalties, but they’re getting all the dust, traffic and round-the-clock noise.

“I don’t believe corporations get to run roughshod over surface owners and constituents,” Rep. Cory Williams (D-District 35) said.

Rep. Williams authored HB 2187.

It would require oil and gas companies to use the best technology available to reduce noise and vibration.

This goes for drilling, exploration, and fracking.

He’s heard from a lot of people all over the state.

“Now the homestead they’ve had forever is lit up like Times Square in the middle of the night. There’s constant noise and constant vibration emanating from constant drill sites,” Rep. Williams said.

Industry leaders we talked to recognize the problem but say it would cost a lot more to stop drilling, for instance, while people are sleeping.

The rigs are contracted out, and the longer the process takes, the higher the bill for the oil company.

A.J. Ferate is the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

“There is a significant cost to a well if you are trying to drill, so you want to get that well all the way through consistently and have work continue rather than stopping,” Ferate said.

Rep. Williams says he’s working with leaders in the industry to find a balance.

“People have a right to have quiet enjoyment of the premises, and we have kind of given that right away,” Rep. Williams said.

Rep. Williams says the bill is still a work in progress.

It’s expected to be introduced in committee soon.