Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest & Petition Report


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Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest & Petition 4-17-14 (April 17, 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Thursday, April 17, 2014, twenty members of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), the Muse Project, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) staged a successful protest of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) auction of oil and gas leases of state rivers, lands, and mineral rights to the highest bidders among two drilling companies [1-4].  Converging at 8:30 am MDT outside the IDL main office in Boise, Idaho, participants arrived with their protest signs, friends, and family members, including an infant and toddler, and their spirit of solidarity with communities devastated by fossil fuels.  Together they sang multiple rounds of the climate activism song Do It Now near the IDL entrance, as five or more news agencies interviewed and filmed the demonstrators, and as bidders, government officials, and their associates hurried inside.

When protesters filed into the building only minutes before the auction began, the receptionist insisted that they could not bring their posters or voices to the auction.  One organizer asked to see the Idaho code that disallowed this practice, and the crowd soon occupied and packed the back of the conference room.  As bids on 150 public tracts started at $1 per acre and ended as high as $505 per acre, some defaulting to Alta Mesa without competitive bidding, the demonstrators held their protest signs, placed them on tables surrounded by bidders, and scrutinized, videotaped, and photographed the proceedings among irritated oil and gas industry representatives.  Immediately after the auction concluded, two activists asked how the public can comment before state auctions on parcels of their lands and minerals planned for fossil fuel development leases.  To expand Idaho citizens’ right to knowledge of these lands as well as more stringent water protections for leased rivers and increased public engagement in leasing processes, they also requested comprehensive maps of the leased parcels and the auction’s list of tracts, leasees, and bids.

As described in a petition addressed to Idaho Governor Butch Otter and signed by hundreds of Idaho citizens, the auction protesters plan to discuss and democratize these processes with the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners at their next regular meeting on May 22, 2014 [5].  They also request independent baseline testing of all bodies of water near state lands and minerals, prior to their inclusion in future state lease auctions, and the open availability of this water quality data to the public.  Additionally, IRAGE, Muse Project, and WIRT activists assert that:

1. Idaho rules and laws should require IDL to broadly publicize any auction well in advance, disclosing maps of tracts proposed for oil and gas leases, including the latitude and longitude of each parcel.

2. Before each such auction, the state should offer public hearings led by neutral government officials with the political will to listen and act on citizen statements at these meetings.

3. IDL should provide private landowners impacted by split estates, underlain by sub-surface, state mineral rights up for auction, the opportunity to buy those rights before their leasing to fossil fuel drillers.

4. Before IDL auctions, the state should personally notify Idaho citizens who live in the near vicinity of state lands and minerals planned for oil and gas leases.

With 402 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the global atmosphere – 200 ppm above healthy, pre-industrial levels – Idahoans and our government representatives should always recall that collectively facilitating leasing and drilling of our shared resources chooses short-term profit over the wellbeing of present and future generations.  Even burning already extracted fossil fuels sacrifices our children and their children to the dire consequences of climate chaos and polluted air, water, and lands, while solar energy alone could meet 370 percent of Idaho’s energy needs.

[1] Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest, Petition, & Preparation (April 11, 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Groups Protest Idaho Department of Lands Mineral Rights Auction (April 17, 2014, Boise Weekly)

[3] Idaho Lands Auctions Oil and Natural Gas Leases, Attracts Peaceful Protesters (April 17, 2014, Idaho Statesman)

[4] Idaho Residents Protest Auction of Public Lands for Oil and Gas Drilling (April 18, 2014, EcoWatch)

[5] Protect Idaho’s Water (CredoMobilize petition)

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4 thoughts on “Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest & Petition Report

  1. Pingback: Gasland 2 Idaho Road Show | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Pingback: Statewide Gas Lease Auction Protests | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  3. Pingback: Third Idaho Oil & Gas Lease Auction Protest | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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