Smoke Ranch Well Protest

Gas Well with Bluffs

As oil and gas drilling resumed in Payette County this month after a few years, Alta Mesa Services raised a derrick at the Smoke Ranch natural gas well on June 9 [1].  This directionally drilled well – the focus of the intensive Stop the Frack Attack! campaign of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE) during June – embodies the myriad infringements of environmental and human health that conventionally-drilled and hydraulically-fractured (“fracked”) oil and gas wells famously impose [2].  The Smoke Ranch well occupies a floodplain, where operators pumped standing water from the well pad before drilling between the Payette River and Big Willow Creek, within a half-mile of a riparian area/wetland wildlife refuge, and only a few miles upstream from the City of Fruitland municipal water intake and the Payette/Snake River confluence.  Its ultimate outcomes could set a precedent for looming drilling/fracking on and under nearby state lands and waters already leased by Alta Mesa and Snake River Oil and Gas.  IRAGE activists have been monitoring the site daily and, along with other information sources in the southwest Idaho region, have observed multitudes of hidden equipment, transport trailers, drill pipes, and well pads awaiting likely escalating utilization, as well as water for Smoke Ranch operations withdrawn from irrigation canals.  They have recently taken unreleased pictures and videos of several Schlumberger tank trucks covered with radioactive warning placards. Continue reading