The 1500+ members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) oppose Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) permitting of the Alta Mesa Resources (AMS) application to drill well number 1-21 of the Smoke Ranch lease on Birding Island in Payette County, Idaho. We are concerned that AMS drilling through subsurface shale would require utilization of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in close proximity to the Payette River, Big Willow Creek, and their confluence and surrounding floodplains and wetlands. Even without fracking, the majority of drinking water contamination problems across the United States have arisen from natural gas and oil drilling and improper well casing construction: Approximately half of all oil and gas well casings fail within twenty years. Surface water contamination can carelessly occur from the fluids that result as a byproduct of this kind of drilling: the deeper the well, the more radioactive the returning material.
Furthermore, if the Smoke Ranch 1-21 well proves productive during this first foray into the deeper Willow gas field, Alta Mesa Services, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG), and their peers, backed only by questionable financial resources, could drill in the state lands (leased by IDL at ridiculously low rates) along the Payette River. With only expensive, exploratory progress in the southwestern Idaho target area that geologists have stated holds very little oil and gas resources, AMS and SROG drilling in riverine places most vulnerable to water contamination is not in the best interests of the health and safety of Idahoans and the environment upon which we rely for our economic activities. Moreover, oil and natural gas resources in Idaho can only be developed and moved to market with great difficulty and cost, due to lack of existing infrastructure. Continue reading