How far should oil and gas facilities be from a home? The federal government is more protective than some states

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is home to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA insures home mortgages to help Americans buy homes.

When considering whether a property is eligible for an FHA-insured loan, HUD requires that "a site be rejected if the property being appraised is subject to hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, offensive sights or excessive noises to the point of endangering the physical improvements or affecting the livability of the property, its marketability or the health and safety of its occupants." Oil and gas production poses all those risks.

But HUD goes further and states that "Operating and abandoned oil and gas wells pose potential hazards to housing, including potential fire, explosion, spray and other pollution.... No existing dwelling may be located closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site.  Note that this applies to the site boundary, not to the actual well site."

The mandated distance from an industrial facility to a home or other sensitive area is called a "setback." Some towns in Texas have setbacks of up to 1,000 feet from a home, fresh water well, school, hospital or public park.

Some places in the country, however, still have setbacks for homes that are less then 300 feet. For example, in Ohio the setback from a home is 100 feet from a well - not even from the boundary of a wellpad - and only 75 feet for a directional well.

Thanks to the Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project (NEOGAP) for this information.