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.

We Must Get Our Energy in Responsible Manner (July 29 Idaho Press-Tribune)

Heartfelt thanks to native Idahoan Delmar Stone, the executive director of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and an Environmental Protection Agency criminal investigator, who together engaged in an afternoon tour of the Payette County gas field with Alma Hasse.  In 2008, the NASW officially acknowledged as part of its mission irreversible global ecosystem threats and the international, disproportionate exposure of ethnic minority and rural communities to environmental degradation, stating that it “supports and advocates for the elimination of fossil fuels, where feasible, to be replaced with clean energy, such as solar, wind, and water.”  Everyone in Idaho should be angry about our relatively healthy resources are being sold to the lowest oil and gas development bidder!  WIRT is grateful that Delmar produced this exceptional, resulting article that recognizes fracking warrior and friend Alma Hasse’s work to protect the citizens of Payette County, the state of Idaho, and the planet.  Along with our colleagues across the region, we are proud to stand beside her in this battle.

Letter to IDL about Smoke Ranch Well Site Spill (July 31)

Alma Hasse recently sent a formal public records request via email to Eric Wilson of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), describing the cleanup (cover-up?) of a possible diesel fuel or drilling mud spill with a strong diesel odor, which she and Tina Fisher documented with digital, dated photos at the Smoke Ranch well site on Sunday afternoon, July 21:

“The personnel on site had the loader out – and one guy with a shovel – and they were busy dumping sawdust/shavings on top of the spill.  While I have no way of estimating the actual amount of the spill, I would guesstimate that it covered a 15- to 20-feet by 25- to 30-feet area immediately east of the green trailer housing the diesel generators.

There were no efforts to remove the contaminated soil/shavings while we were there observing and documenting.  We subsequently went out several times last week – as recently as last night – and the shavings are still there, meaning that the contaminated soil has never been remediated by Alta Mesa.

This is the same well pad site that they had to pump groundwater from underneath because it flooded out!  It sits in a floodplain surrounded by wetlands, so I don’t think there can be any doubt that the water table in that particular area is very high.”

Alma’s in-person request for a copy of this spill incident report at the IDL offices in Boise not only turned up no report but no agency staff knowledge of proper report forms, procedures, or protocol in place for reporting and remediating spills at IDL-permitted oil and gas wells, which could occur more frequently as industry escalates production.  So she formally asked IDL to supply: the applicable forms, procedures, and Idaho code addressing oil and gas well spills and reports; a copy of the spill report for this incident and any others; if and how Alta Mesa personnel informed IDL of this spill; and the source of (probably not rightfully obtained, over-allocated) water for drilling newly permitted wells.

Petroleum Engineer Needed, Well Spacing, Third New Well Permit (August 1)

Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction is calling for your suggestions of a petroleum engineer – or a similar professional, like former industry engineer Dr. Ingraffea – to consult about the nature of oil and gas fields in Idaho (see the following lecture video).  Please contact Alma Hasse at idahocare@yahoo.com and/or WIRT with your referrals.  Apparently taking lessons from industry, the Idaho Department of Lands has been lying by omission lately, stating that Payette County oil and gas resources constitute a “conventional” play conducive of spacing wells at one per 640 acres.  However, after much legal wrangling this spring to establish this well spacing distance in the Payette County drilling area, AM Idaho (Alta Mesa Services) secured loopholes in Idaho statutes allowing for exceptions (see the following final order).  Every permit that IDL has issued this summer, as drilling has resumed after a two-year hiatus, has granted requests for these exceptions.  The currently drilled and previous ML Investments wells are spaced about every ten acres, like in Pavillion, Wyoming, where water contamination ensued.

Alta Mesa Services submitted a third new well permit application to the Idaho Department of Lands in mid-July, to drill on Simplot (aka ML Investments) land.  The July 31 edition of the New Plymouth News states that, “The current [Smoke Ranch well] drilling operation and the second [ML Investments] well, which will be drilled later this summer, are not the only operations area residents can expect.  A third permit application has been submitted, and extensive local and state permitting discussions are underway in order to plan gathering pipelines, so the natural gas can eventually be sold via the Williams Pipeline running through western Idaho.”  Two years ago at an Idaho Environmental Forum, industry attorney John Peiserich predicted that natural gas wells in Payette County could spring every twenty acres.  Such spacing indicates not a conventional play, where fracking is unnecessary, but most likely “tight gas” reserves, which IDL and industry refuse to acknowledge due to the stigma associated with Pavillion degradation.  If a petroleum engineer can attest – and validate early industry statements – that tight gas sandstones underlie the lower Payette/Weiser River basins, IRAGE intends to confront IDL and industry disinformation and lies by omission, perhaps with a formal complaint to the Idaho State Bar Association against industry attorneys.  The ongoing public relations battle with IDL and industry could also employ strategically placed billboards, highlighting for the public this and other instances of deception during the onset of oil and gas drilling in Idaho.

Dr. Ingraffea Facts on Fracking (March 23, 2011 Kristian Boose video)

Hosted by the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, well-respected Cornell University professor Anthony Ingraffea presented this overview of unconventional natural gas drilling and fracking processes, based on scientific, technological, and engineering facts, at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Final Spacing Order – Idaho Department of Lands (April 16 Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission)

DJS Properties 2-14 Well Application for Permit to Drill, Deepen, or Plug Back (July 17 Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission)

Smoke Ranch Well Protest 8-2-13 (August 2 WIRT photos) (on facebook)

A report and photos chronicling the first, overdue, public, on-site, oil and natural gas drilling protest in Idaho history, staged on Friday, August 2, by IRAGE and WIRT at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30, the Smoke Ranch well site on Highway 52, and near the currently drilled ML Investments 2-10 well off Little Willow Road, all in Payette County.

Protest at Smoke Ranch Well (July 29 Earth First! Newswire)

Thanks to continent-wide IRAGE/WIRT recognition through Earth First! Newswire coverage, even Utah comrades called WIRT and considered participation in the August 2 Idaho fracking/drilling protest.


Strip Joints and Prostitutes: Here’s What America’s Natural Gas Alliance Did for You Today (August 9, 2011 BlueDaze)

Four Horrifying Dangers of Fracking (November 30, 2012 AlterNet)

Water Depletion (August 8 Pattie Young of IRAGE)

“Farmers here in Idaho are taking a 20 percent or more loss this year, due to the worst water shortage in 25 years prompting an early water cut-off in the next couple of weeks, followed by concerns for next year.  We wonder how the gluttonous water demand for the new natural gas boom coming in will figure into that.  [Sarcastically:] It’s assuring to know our state and local governments took the local farmers into consideration in this projected boost for our economy.  …Sad state of affairs for sure.  Wait until the head-in-the-sanders see the 100 wells that Simplot leased their large acreage for just east [upriver] of there.  People aren’t even aware of what is about to hit them.”

New York Landowners Denied Homeowners Insurance Because of Gas Well (August 9 Marcellus Effect)

Tina Fisher of IRAGE: “No homeowner insurance, violation of your mortgage agreement.  Could lead to banks demanding note is paid immediately.  No bank will refinance, leading to foreclosure.”

Unfair Share: How Oil and Gas Drillers Avoid Paying Royalties (August 13 ProPublica)

Fracking Boom Could Lead to Housing Bust (August 16 Grist)

Tina Fisher: “Our very own Alma Hasse has spoken to this fact for several years now!  When lenders start foreclosing on homes with leases, wells, or property adjoining wells, how are homeowners going to refinance?  What if the state owns the mineral rights and leases them to industry?  What recourse will you have?”


U.S. Sues Exxon Fracker in Pennsylvania Over Polluted Drinking Water (July 25 AlterNet)

NEPA Congressman Introduces Bill to Close Gas Loophole (July 26 StateImpact)

All-Night Anti-Shale Gas Truck Seizure, Road Block Ends Peacefully Despite RCMP Negotiation Failure (July 29 West Coast Native News)

Hydraulic Fracturing 101 (EarthWorks)

Save the date: On Saturday, October 19, IRAGE, WIRT, and allies around the world are staging another Global Frackdown!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org & on facebook, Twitter


1 thought on “WIRT Newsletter: Idaho Drilling/F​racking Updates, Risks, & Resistance News

  1. Pingback: Idaho Global Frackdown 2 | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

We welcome your comments...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s