Rebuttal to Snake River Oil and Gas Could Start Drilling in Payette County this Spring


It would have been fantastic if you had given a bit of time to some of the local citizens opposed to this development!

Industry has been very successful at convincing everyone else across the state that they do not have anything to worry about – that they are just going to operate a few wells in Payette and Washington counties and that they are not going to frack (at least, that is what we were told originally).

The problem is that does not exactly jive with what they have been doing these past couple of years.

Idaho House Bill 464 went through the legislature last year and totally strips the municipal governments of ANY control over the siting of oil and gas wells in Idaho.  What used to be a process that involved an application to the city/county – a formal public notice and public hearing process – has now became a rubber-stamp process at the state level.  There are only two ways that the state can deny a well permit: if there would be a wasting of the resource and/or if groundwater would be contaminated.  Good luck proving that water will be contaminated BEFORE it happens!  And if it happens – because the state is not requiring ANY baseline testing of well water in the drilling areas – it would be this side of impossible to PROVE that well water was contaminated by drilling activities!  Just ask Mr. Brown if Snake River Oil and Gas or AM Idaho did ANY baseline testing of area water wells.  Ask him if they are required to do any testing!

These companies started off in public meetings in Payette and Washington counties stating that they would not be fracking, BUT John Peiserich, lobbyist for Halliburton (and legal counsel for Snake River Oil and Gas) admitted last year at a legislative forum put on by Idaho Environmental Forum that they WOULD be fracking!

The PowerPoint presentation that the Oil and Gas Commission made to lawmakers states that 90 percent of all newly drilled gas wells ARE fracked (page 30)!  Why would Mr. Brown go through all the trouble and expense of re-writing state laws that strip local control, allow fracking, and also permit Class II injection wells, if they do not plan on fracking here?

By the way, the Idaho Department of Water Resources is currently trying to WEAKEN injection well rules, at the request of the oil and gas industry.

As for Mr. Brown’s economic argument, here is what he did not tell you.  All of those guys doing seismic testing were from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, etc.  ALL of their trucks had out-of-state plates.  They did not even STAY here in Idaho – they stayed in Ontario, Oregon!

On July 9, 2012, Michael Christian with AM Idaho and Richard Brown of Snake River Oil and Gas appeared before the Payette County Board of Equalization.  They were there to ask for a reduction in their tax assessments.  Payette Co. had assessed value of $9,737,424 to their seven natural gas wells. 

Mr. Christian and Mr. Brown were asking for a whopping 85% devaluation– WHICH THEY RECEIVED.  How many other businesses in Idaho get to stroll into their local Commissioners offices, claim that their property is worth approximately 85% less because they currently are not using it?   Small business owners would be laughed at, yet the Payette County Commissioners rolled right over and granted their request.  Meanwhile, we have out-of-state workers living in travel trailers on these well sites while they’re flaring off these wells (nope, they’re not even staying in hotels in Ontario this time!). 

The risk to our drinking and irrigating water is far too great.  For an industry that claims they’re not going to cause any problems, they sure have went to a great deal of trouble to exempt themselves from a whole bunch of things, including; local control over where they put their wells (even the City of Boise would not have ANY say-so if these guys decided they wanted to sink a well in Julia Davis Park), and ANY type of baseline water testing, not to mention that they want to utilize injection wells to dispose of all of their toxic, carcinogen-laced produced water! 

Then there are the earthquakes that have been documented by USGS as being man-made, brought on by injecting contaminated water from gas and oil wells back underground.  Don’t take my word for it, do a little bit of research and see for yourself!

I’d also like to briefly touch on Mr. Foster’s comment, “the added resources could lead to continued low-cost energy, which would help manufacturers interested in far southwestern Idaho”.  There is an enormous push currently underway to EXPORT natural gas.  There are applications currently pending with the Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission – FERC – to turn existing LNG (liquid natural gas) import terminals into EXPORT terminals.  In addition, there are plans in the works to build other EXPORT terminals!  The State of Oregon even asked a judge to deny the approval of the Coos Bay project stating that it would cause prices to RISE!!!  Please do not buy into their hollow arguments– do your own research!!

One last point, we folks out here in the future Idaho sacrifice zone known as Payette County, were REPEATEDLY told at various public meetings that there had NEVER been any documented cases of groundwater contamination from fracking.  Well, this is simply NOT the case, EPA documented groundwater contamination of a gas well all the way back in 1987 in West Virginia.

Just two days ago, the AP carried a story about two families in Texas, Steve Lipsky and his neighbors.  It seems that EPA did a bunch of testing and also hired an independent scientist to verify their results. Both EPA and their independent scientist determined that their drinking well water had—with a very high probability– been contaminated by Range Resources gas wells. In fact, their wells were so contaminated that the EPA did something it very rarely does– issued an endangerment finding! 

EPA was all set to take action on this when they decided to strike a “deal” with Range.  You see Range was refusing to cooperate with EPA on their on-going study on hydraulic fracturing, so EPA let them off the hook.  Of course this was all hushed up and swept under the rug.  Were it not for the sleuthing of some sharp reporters, we STILL wouldn’t know about it!  Google AP, Range, Lipsky and water contamination and look at what you find.  While you’re Googling, try this one:  Gas wells and gag orders.  Yes, the oil and gas industry wanted to gag doctors in Pennsylvania from talking about or disclosing what exposures patients had experienced.  Imagine you’re a first responder—a firefighter—who breathes in toxic fumes while putting out a fire at a dehydration/compression station.  The doctor calls the gas company to find out what you may have breathed in—BUT HE CAN’T TELL YOU FOR FEAR OF GETTING SUED BY INDUSTRY!!!  Just yesterday man was killed in Texas after he breathed in fumes from a condensate spill in Texas!

Does this sound like an industry that is truthful and honest?  Does this sound like an industry that wants to be good neighbors? 

Last point, I find it fascinating that Mr. Brown stated that he wanted to move to Idaho.  I’ve personally heard him testify before legislative committees that he ALREADY has a home in Idaho– Sun Valley– and  loves it!

Alma Hasse
Payette County farmer and small business owner

3 thoughts on “Rebuttal to Snake River Oil and Gas Could Start Drilling in Payette County this Spring

  1. Pingback: Snake River Oil and Gas Could Start Drilling in Payette County this Spring | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Here is what I stated on the original article…
    Ready to sell out the Snake River to snake oil merchants? I used to work in the industry as a deckhand with oil-gas and geo projects. I consider the industry to be reckless and not to be trusted, because there is too little transparency and we only get one chance to destroy our watershed.

  3. The Alta Mesa crews are once again in Payette County, carrying out seismic surveying. This time, they are covering lots of ground in Payette and Fruitland. I have seen them at three locations where I run – the Clay Peak motorcycle trails as well as all along South Whitely Drive and out to SW First Avenue and on SW Eighth Street and down into a landowner’s farmland property (that Alta Mesa now has rights to).
    I’ve noticed the increased traffic in Payette, Idaho, and Ontario, Oregon, of many vehicles with Texas license plates (likely related to this project). Obviously, the jobs related to this project are benefiting Texas, not Idaho.
    I am not as much concerned with this seismic surveying as I am with what will follow. The high potential for fracking – releasing toxins into our water sources – as well as other environmental risks that can have an effect on our communities.
    I would like to get in contact with others who share my concerns.
    – Tina

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