In April 2014, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted to enter into negotiated rulemaking, to improve and clarify the existing Rules Pertaining to Conservation of Crude Oil and Natural Gas, IDAPA 20.07.02. The commission published a notice of intent about this process in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin on June 4, 2014. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is holding four negotiated rulemaking public meetings in the Idaho Capitol at 8:30 am MDT on June 6 and 18 and on July 2 and 22 . Purportedly state-initiated, but primarily industry-instigated, changes to the rules governing oil and gas development in Idaho are open to oral and written public comments and eventual hearings on the final draft of the proposed rules. IDL oil and gas program manager Bobby Johnson has managed these rulemaking sessions that have drawn the attendance of agency staff, industry representatives, and stakeholders from Alta Mesa, the Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Conservation League, IDL, Idaho Department of Water Resources, and Idaho Petroleum Council, and concerned county commissioners, Gem and Payette county residents and landowners, and Boise citizens.
Much that Idahoans cherish is at stake through this rulemaking and associated legislative approval of revised Idaho oil and gas rules and other related laws. As Gem County activist Joe Morton asserts, the new IDAPA rules and prerogatives advanced by Governor Otter’s appointed Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are eroding, if not eliminating, Idaho private property rights . The state legislature mandated legal clauses proclaiming that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission shall have “authority over all persons and property, public and private” concerning oil and gas extraction. Idaho lawmakers also removed local government control of oil and gas exploitation with passage of House Bill 464 in 2012, which states that “No ordinance, resolution, requirement, or standard of a city, county, or political subdivision, except a state agency with authority, shall actually or operationally prohibit the extraction of oil and gas.” Besides many other troublesome rule changes favoring industry, state agency and commission members are currently displaying corporatism at its best: Writing new IDAPA rules that could force pool 45 percent of non-participating private property owners into relinquishing their rights to minerals taken from under their lands. Like landowners who do not own their subsurface minerals and accompanying rights in “split estates,” the state of Idaho would allow extraction of oil and gas regardless of property owners wishes. Continue reading
Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest & Petition 4-17-14 (April 17, 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)
On Thursday, April 17, 2014, twenty members of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), the Muse Project, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) staged a successful protest of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) auction of oil and gas leases of state rivers, lands, and mineral rights to the highest bidders among two drilling companies [1-4]. Converging at 8:30 am MDT outside the IDL main office in Boise, Idaho, participants arrived with their protest signs, friends, and family members, including an infant and toddler, and their spirit of solidarity with communities devastated by fossil fuels. Together they sang multiple rounds of the climate activism song Do It Now near the IDL entrance, as five or more news agencies interviewed and filmed the demonstrators, and as bidders, government officials, and their associates hurried inside.
When protesters filed into the building only minutes before the auction began, the receptionist insisted that they could not bring their posters or voices to the auction. One organizer asked to see the Idaho code that disallowed this practice, and the crowd soon occupied and packed the back of the conference room. As bids on 150 public tracts started at $1 per acre and ended as high as $505 per acre, some defaulting to Alta Mesa without competitive bidding, the demonstrators held their protest signs, placed them on tables surrounded by bidders, and scrutinized, videotaped, and photographed the proceedings among irritated oil and gas industry representatives. Immediately after the auction concluded, two activists asked how the public can comment before state auctions on parcels of their lands and minerals planned for fossil fuel development leases. To expand Idaho citizens’ right to knowledge of these lands as well as more stringent water protections for leased rivers and increased public engagement in leasing processes, they also requested comprehensive maps of the leased parcels and the auction’s list of tracts, leasees, and bids.
As described in a petition addressed to Idaho Governor Butch Otter and signed by hundreds of Idaho citizens, the auction protesters plan to discuss and democratize these processes with the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners at their next regular meeting on May 22, 2014 . They also request independent baseline testing of all bodies of water near state lands and minerals, prior to their inclusion in future state lease auctions, and the open availability of this water quality data to the public. Additionally, IRAGE, Muse Project, and WIRT activists assert that: Continue reading
On Thursday, April 17, 2014, beginning at 9:30 am MDT, the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners will offer oil and gas leases of state lands and sub-surface mineral rights for sale to the highest bidder, at the director’s office of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), 300 North Sixth Street, Suite 103, in Boise, Idaho . IDL periodically conducts these public auctions and administers subsequent leases, with oversight and approval by the Land Board. The 12.5-percent royalty derived from extracted oil and gas raises funds from lands held for the public trust and state wildlife and transportation departments and for specified beneficiary institutions through the state endowment trust. Of the 150 tracts in Ada, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties, 36 parcels are located under or adjacent to the Boise and Snake Rivers and many involve the split estates of private landowners and state mineral holders .
Minimum, competitive bids by drilling companies at the oral auction open at only $0.25 per acre for the 17,700-plus acres available for leasing. Successful bidders must pay their bid and the first year’s annual rental of $1.00 per acre for leases lasting up to ten years. If the lease is not drilled or productive, IDL assesses an additional drilling penalty of $1.00 per acre per year starting in the sixth year. The state requires a $1,000 bond for exploration on each lease, which increases to $6,000 prior to drilling, in addition to a drilling permit bond issued by the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Before entry on state lands for seismic exploration, the company must acquire an IDL permit costing $100 per mile across contiguous tracts or a minimum of $100 per section.
The last state lands and minerals auction on January 16, 2014, in Boise, Idaho, generated $694,000 in bids for the state of Idaho [3, 4]. The Idaho Department of Lands leased 8,714 acres for oil and gas drilling – including 4,130 acres in and alongside the Boise, Payette, and Snake river beds – for an average of $80 per acre to the lone bidder, Alta Mesa Idaho. The April 17 auction will double this previously largest amount of Idaho public lands and minerals leased in one period, bringing the total to nearly 98,000 state acres, leased for as low as $2.35 per acre on average, besides the thousands more private acres leased in six southwestern counties . Fourteen drilled but capped wells, awaiting pending pipelines and processing infrastructure, have prefaced the first producing well in Idaho in February 2014, on the Teunissen Dairy near New Plymouth. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality found toluene from drilling mud in a water well several hundred feet away in fall 2012 .
If the people of Idaho own all of these myriad acres of public trust and endowment trust state lands and minerals auctioned for oil and gas exploitation, which respectively “benefit” the general fund and public schools, how can Idahoans influence and determine how our state stewards these shared resources? Allowing the same agency – the Idaho Department of Lands – to both regulate and lease oil and gas development on state holdings seems like a conflict of interest, especially because the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that oversees industry regulation is politically appointed and receives a 1.5-percent severance tax on oil and gas production for its “responsibility.” At least Idahoans can vote out of office the state’s highest elected officials on the Land Board, for leasing and selling off our precious, impacted lands, resources, and waterways for bargain basement prices.
Because the last five years of frenzied oil and gas rule-making, legislation, drilling, and exploration, centered primarily in Payette County and the Boise halls of government, represent industry’s first forays into Idaho’s still relatively pristine, and thus increasingly valuable, watersheds, the time has now arrived for communities across the state to organize and resist looming drilling, fracking, and acidizing of oil and gas wells. Historic and current fossil fuel development in the state infers that major portions of Idaho are ripe for development and could eventually suffer in the boom-and-bust crosshairs of dirty energy corporations . Please participate in one or hopefully all of these opportunities for citizen protection of our clean air, water, and lands: Continue reading
February 12, 2014
Sent via email and attachment
Idaho Department of Lands
Boise Staff Office
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0050
Director Schultz and IDL staff,
On behalf of over 2200 members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), I respectfully offer and request inclusion in the public record of these comments concerning the application submitted to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) by Trendwell West, Inc. (“Trendwell”) requesting permits to drill the Smith 1-10 well, the first recently proposed oil or natural gas well in Canyon County, Idaho (LU600553 Trendwell West Application for Permit to Drill 2-12-14).
WIRT activists oppose permitting, drilling, and potential hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the proposed Trendwell West Smith 1-10 well, due to the inadequacy and incompleteness of Trendwell’s plans submitted for public review and the potential impacts of the well and its development on human and environmental health and safety. Considering that corrections to the original, posted application, compelled by Trendwell’s non-compliance with the IDL instructions stated in the application, and additional documents such as the Surface Use Agreement, are currently missing and thus unavailable for public review during the comment period before potential IDL permitting of this application, we request that, if the Trendwell application to drill the Smith 1-10 well is modified or augmented in any way, the Idaho Department of Lands re-open the comment period for this application. Failure to post this revised application and re-open its public review violates section 51 of IDAPA 20.07.02 Rules Governing Oil and Gas Conservation in the State of Idaho. Continue reading
Facilities would allow company to collect and treat natural gas.
Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members have approved two conditional use permits for two facilities that would allow a natural gas company to collect and treat natural gas.
So far this year, two wells have been drilled in Payette County, and the state has approved a third. With the approval of these two conditional use permits, the company, Alta Mesa, will be able to sell the natural gas commercially, and Idaho would officially become a gas-producing state.
One of the permits approved by commission members on Thursday was for a hydrocarbon liquid treatment facility near 4303 Highway 30 South in New Plymouth. This facility would take up nearly six acres of land outside New Plymouth.
The facility would have no liquids open to the atmosphere but held in a sealed, closed container, according to John Peiserich, representing Alta Mesa.
The facility would require a turnaround for 18-wheelers to come through, though Peiserich said the number of trucks would be in the single digits in a week’s time. A small truck would service the area, and an employee would be present every day, with additional remote monitoring by a computer checking for any fluctuations in the liquids.
A dehydrator would be on the location to extract water vapor from the natural gas. This dehydrator, which would be out in the open, would run nearly 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Peiserich said.
The size of the dehydrator that would go on the property is built for 40 wells serviced at constant capacity, or approximately 20 million cubic feet of gas per day, Peiserich said. Continue reading
During the last two Idaho legislative sessions, a majority of our state senators and representatives succumbed to the mercenary ambitions of the oil and natural gas industry and the state of Idaho. They passed state laws, rules, and regulations allowing hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” that pollutes surface and ground water, sanctioning associated waste injection wells that leak or re-use water wells, permitting seismic testing and gas flaring that jeopardize geologic stability and air quality, granting corporate hegemony over local jurisdictions that undermines democratic oversight of oil and gas facilities, and consenting to drilling on state lands and near or under rivers, wetlands, and wildlife refuges that sustain drinking water, agriculture, and native species [1, 2].
Despite ongoing outcry from thousands of citizens and diligent input from scientists, attorneys, elected officials, and conservation organizations, our delegates have negligently accommodated oil and gas exploration, production, and transportation in Idaho, especially where the state owns the subsurface mineral rights, at the likely expense of their constituents’ health, safety, livelihoods, and self-governance. In the wake of increasingly erratic weather and horrific oil and gas spills in the flooded South Platte River bottomlands of Colorado, honest, hard-working Idahoans dread the impacts of similar probable scenarios on their families and communities, homes and businesses, and resources and recreation in the Payette River floodplains, where drilling resumed this summer, and in the wild, downstream Snake River canyons [3, 4]. Continue reading
One natural gas well has been drilled and a second is nearly done in Payette County, as the natural gas industry settles into the local area.
A total of three permits have been submitted to drill wells in the county, with one permit awaiting approval for the third well location.
“It’s going well,” said John Foster, spokesman for Snake River Oil and Gas. “We’ve been very fortunate to be able to utilize a lot of Idaho businesses and residents in moving forward in drilling.”
The first well, which is located outside of New Plymouth, is completed, Foster said. You wouldn’t know it is even there, he said.
But one local resident, Alma Hasse, filed a public records request to the Idaho Department of Lands for an oil spill report. Continue reading
Linda Widner, Weiser
The Argus Observer 8/29/13
(Washington County) Commissioner Anderson and Commissioner Chandler, I’m writing this letter to ask you why you feel following reasonable ordinances is too much for oil companies? Are they not a multibillion-dollar industry?
Yes, I agree we need more job opportunities in Washington County. However, I also believe if the oil company causes damage to land, water, animals, and people, it needs to be responsible to take care of whatever damages it causes. If it decides to drill on your property and it stirs up methane gas, are you going to pay to fix that problem? Do you think your insurance company will gladly pay? I don’t think so.
I recently read an MSN article regarding fracking and how banks and lending agencies are revisiting their lending policies to account for potential impacts of drilling. Also, home insurance policies do not cover residential properties with gas leases or gas wells.
You, like other politicians, were elected by voters to watch out for our best interests. Instead, it seems politicians only want the job for their own personal agendas. Please work for our community.