Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Weekend


Idaho Gas Drill without Margins

In the wake of the Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Week and Month of Actions, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and United Vision for Idaho (UVI) are launching the Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Weekend to conclude an undeniably successful June full of citizen resistance to oil and gas drilling and impending fracking in Idaho [1, 2, 3].  As mercenary natural gas development companies and the colluded state government accelerate pillage of public resources, Idahoans are increasingly confronting politicians and profiteers through actions to protect shared surface, ground, and irrigation waters, wildlife, agriculture, and recreation, air quality and climate, and the subsequent health of current and future generations.

From Coeur d’Alene to Boise, we started the month with statewide protests at six offices of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), the agency charged with permitting oil and gas exploration, extraction, and production in Idaho.  Initially through these WIRT actions and comments, we voiced opposition to IDL leasing of state lands along and under the Payette River for drilling and rallied against an IDL permit sought by Alta Mesa Services (AMS) to drill the Smoke Ranch well in a Payette River island floodplain near a confluence and wildlife refuge, wetlands, prior Native lands, and downstream city water intake.  In response, IDL issued a media counter-release that disclosed that IDL had leased the Payette River Wildlife Management Area for drilling and that it anticipated “small frac jobs” on half of the previously established eleven wells in Payette County.  IDL also inexplicably disregarded and refused to post WIRT’s extensive comments on the AMS permit application, despite their relevance.  Twenty-plus participants in the June 7 protest outside the main IDL office and minerals division during afternoon rush-hour traffic in downtown Boise waved signs and banners, chalked sidewalk notes, and engaged IDL director Tom Schultz in a brief conversation.  Several widely circulated press releases and the WIRT rebuttal to IDL’s counter-release motivated Boise Weekly, Earthworks Earthblog, EcoWatch, and KRFP Radio Free Moscow to cover our extensive demonstrations.

During the current Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Month of Action, activists have supported protesters at IDL offices by calling and/or emailing IDL director Tom Schultz in Boise (208-334-0200, comments@idl.idaho.gov) to demand 1) baseline and ongoing surface and well water tests before oil and gas drilling/fracking in Idaho, 2) an extension of the comment period on the precariously placed Smoke Ranch well and IDL rejection of this AMS application, and 3) prohibition of drilling/fracking on and under state lands and waters around the Payette River and elsewhere.  Several activists shared their comments and IDL’s replies to their input electronically, prompting IDL to publish a Fracking in Idaho brochure in an attempt to placate and undermine resistance to the probable impacts of oil and gas exploitation on groundwater.  WIRT also submitted comments on a second proposed Alta Mesa Services gas well in the bluffs above New Plymouth [4, 5].  We raised concerns about the position of the ML Investments 2-10 well over a compacted road and abandoned irrigation ditches, near two fault lines in the fifth most seismically active state, and abutting an active irrigation canal on two sides, which could inadvertently or intentionally poison the down-gradient irrigation system.  As Payette County Commissioners deliberated a new ordinance regulating oil and gas drilling in the county, community members attended public hearings and wrote letters to the area newspaper editor, revealing the inadequacies of the proposal’s policies on baseline water testing before drilling, emergency response preparedness, and other contingencies [6, 7].  Non-public Commissioner discussions and documents surrounding the draft ordinance appear to breach laws about open meetings and public records.

In culminating actions advancing greater public understanding and participation in opposition to oil and gas drilling and fracking in Idaho, IRAGE, WIRT, and UVI are hosting information booths and a workshop, strategy session, and field tour on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30.  Please stop by the IRAGE and WIRT tables between 10 am and 9 pm on Saturday, June 29, at the Community Progressive III in Julia Davis Park, 700 South Capitol Boulevard, Boise, Idaho [8].  United Vision for Idaho stages this celebration of local nonprofits, artisans, and producers with 20 local bands and a beer garden, in recognition of thriving, sustainable Idaho communities that promote social, economic, and environmental stewardship and exchange local goods and services.  From 3 to 4 pm at this great outdoor summer event, IRAGE and WIRT will also provide a workshop entitled What the Frack is Going On: The Truth about Fracking in Idaho [9].

On Sunday, June 30, at 10:30 am, a dozen or more concerned Idaho activists will again converge for a fourth strategizing meeting, to discuss on-the-ground tactics such as a Payette County canvass and Boise direct action training session, outreach through the Don’t Frack Idaho website and Gasland screenings across the state, and the ongoing, innovative initiatives of several organizations.  Boise carpools to Fruitland will depart at 9 am from the Discovery Center of Idaho parking lot at 131 Myrtle Street.  Contact IRAGE or WIRT for information about the Fruitland location of this gathering and invite your trusted associates.  At 12 noon on the same Sunday, everyone is welcome at a field tour led by IRAGE organizers to natural gas well sites, irrigation canals and wetlands, the Payette River wildlife refuge, and other features in the surrounding Payette County landscape.  Participants will meet in the parking lot of the A & W Restaurant/Chevron gas station just north of Interstate 84 Exit 3, at the corner of Highway 95 and U.S. Highway 30 [10].  Please bring your friends, family, and neighbors, fracking/drilling protest signs and banners, cameras and binoculars, but especially your curiosity and enthusiasm to these events, for some great educational, scouting, and photo opportunities among fellow concerned citizens.  WIRT will arrange carpools from northern Idaho with your input: call 208-301-8039 for further logistical descriptions.  With drilling on and under state lands and waters and fracking on the Idaho horizon, your active involvement in this campaign is more crucial than ever.

[1] Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! (May 23 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Updates (June 3 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[3] Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! Month of Action (June 17 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[4] Permit to Drill Application Submitted by Alta Mesa (June 4 Idaho Department of Lands)

[5] Comments Received that Address the Application (June 24 Idaho Department of Lands)

[6] Gas, Oil Regulation on Agenda (June 21 Argus Observer)

[7] Letters to the Editor (June 20 Argus Observer)

[8] The Community Progressive III (United Vision for Idaho) (facebook page)

[9] Workshop Schedule for June 29, 2013 (United Vision for Idaho)

[10] A & W Restaurant and Chevron Station (June 26 Google Map)

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