WIRT Newsletter: Idaho Drilling/F​racking Updates, Risks, & Resistance News

Dirty energy resisters,


Outline of Idaho Oil and Gas/Injection Well Rules (Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission)

Reasonably Foreseeable Development Scenario for Oil and Gas Development in the Four Rivers Field Office Idaho (October 16, 2009 Bureau of Land Management)

Low-Flying Airplane Mapping Spokane Area (May 15 U.S. Geological Survey)

Claiming that it was measuring and mapping the magnetic field of the earth and related subsurface geologic and hydrologic features, such as shallow faults that caused small 2001 Spokane earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey contracted EDCON-PRJ, a company involved in mining and oil and gas exploration around the world, to fly low-level aircraft over the Spokane/eastern Washington/northern Idaho area and other parts of Idaho for nearly a month this spring.  Are corporate forces exploring fracking opportunities in our region?

If you would like local answers to this question, as a WIRT member is seeking in the Grangeville area, search your county recorder’s office for oil and gas leases, filed as encumbrances against real property after they are signed and made available online by some counties, such as Payette County.  Among various ways to search through these documents, the easiest method entails using the code for oil and gas leases that the county clerk or recorder assigns.  If you do a “grantee” search, look for these companies that have operated recently in Idaho: Alta Mesa Idaho (or AM Idaho), Bridge Resources, Idaho Natural Resources, and Snake River Oil and Gas.

Gas Exploration Benefits Southwest Idaho Farmers (July 5 Capital Press)

Industry spin and citizen cooperation: Although Idaho state law prevents local governments from regulating the technical aspects of oil and gas drilling, it allows them to create ordinances that protect public health and safety and property rights.  The 60-member Weiser River Resource Council, which advocates responsible drilling and fair landowner/neighbor treatment by industry, is pushing for strong, local ordinances that protect the environment, public infrastructure, and property rights and that mitigate potential negative effects, according to co-chair Amanda Buchanan.

Alma Hasse on Kevin Miller Show (July 24)

On Wednesday, July 24, between 7 and 8 am, Alma of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE) talked about fracking/drilling in Idaho on the Kevin Miller program on KIDO 580 AM, Boise, Idaho.  She encouraged distant fractivists and IRAGE friends to call in to the toll-free phone number on Kevin’s website, and she later described her host as a perfect gentlemen.

Payette County Oil and Gas Ordinance (July 29)

The Payette County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held their public hearing on the proposed county oil and gas ordinance at 11:00 am on Monday, July 29, at the Payette County Courthouse.  Fellow fractivist Alma Hasse mobilized community involvement, attended, and offered information for this report.  The commissioners had demolished most of the ordinance that the planning and zoning commission (P&Z) had worked on for six months.  But they retained the nationally rare requirements for baseline water testing before drilling, although of only two down-gradient domestic wells (or of two up-gradient wells, if two below cannot be located).

Industry attorney/spokesperson Michael Christian adamantly argued against the need to conduct baseline water testing, disingenuously saying that samplers would not know which chemicals to target.  Alma countered that drillers could provide a sample of their flowback/produced water and a list of all of the constituents in their drilling and fracking fluids to guide chemical tests.  New Plymouth Mayor Joe Cook asserted, and Commissioner Endrikat agreed, that the nearby municipalities also need copies of all of the water testing data.  Such information after redaction should be available through the county to members of the public, who can learn what industry is testing for and conduct their own testing to ensure the accuracy of industry data.  (Please thank Mayor Cook for this policy development by calling him and/or leaving a message for him with the clerk at 208-278-5338.)

Before the hearing, Tina Fisher had measured out 200 feet at the county courthouse to provide the commissioners with a visual sense of such distance, and spoke eloquently at the meeting about the importance of oil and gas facilities placement.  Nonetheless, the county commissioners reduced the minimum setback distance between private/public buildings and oil/gas wells to 200 feet with exception language.  The P&Z commission had intended that this spacing component of the ordinance only cover oil and gas wells, whereas the earlier county commissioner version applied to all aspects of production.  However, this distinction reappeared in the latest ordinance, allowing dehydration/compression stations and toxic waste and evaporation pits and tank batteries to be located less than 200 feet away from schools, churches, parks, hospitals, etc.  Fractivists are considering all options for a successful resolution of this dilemma – a model ordinance for every county in the state to adopt – but it will necessitate plenty of work by committed citizens. Continue reading