In April 2014, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted to enter into negotiated rulemaking, to improve and clarify the existing Rules Pertaining to Conservation of Crude Oil and Natural Gas, IDAPA 20.07.02. The commission published a notice of intent about this process in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin on June 4, 2014. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is holding four negotiated rulemaking public meetings in the Idaho Capitol at 8:30 am MDT on June 6 and 18 and on July 2 and 22 . Purportedly state-initiated, but primarily industry-instigated, changes to the rules governing oil and gas development in Idaho are open to oral and written public comments and eventual hearings on the final draft of the proposed rules. IDL oil and gas program manager Bobby Johnson has managed these rulemaking sessions that have drawn the attendance of agency staff, industry representatives, and stakeholders from Alta Mesa, the Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Conservation League, IDL, Idaho Department of Water Resources, and Idaho Petroleum Council, and concerned county commissioners, Gem and Payette county residents and landowners, and Boise citizens.
Much that Idahoans cherish is at stake through this rulemaking and associated legislative approval of revised Idaho oil and gas rules and other related laws. As Gem County activist Joe Morton asserts, the new IDAPA rules and prerogatives advanced by Governor Otter’s appointed Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are eroding, if not eliminating, Idaho private property rights . The state legislature mandated legal clauses proclaiming that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission shall have “authority over all persons and property, public and private” concerning oil and gas extraction. Idaho lawmakers also removed local government control of oil and gas exploitation with passage of House Bill 464 in 2012, which states that “No ordinance, resolution, requirement, or standard of a city, county, or political subdivision, except a state agency with authority, shall actually or operationally prohibit the extraction of oil and gas.” Besides many other troublesome rule changes favoring industry, state agency and commission members are currently displaying corporatism at its best: Writing new IDAPA rules that could force pool 45 percent of non-participating private property owners into relinquishing their rights to minerals taken from under their lands. Like landowners who do not own their subsurface minerals and accompanying rights in “split estates,” the state of Idaho would allow extraction of oil and gas regardless of property owners wishes. Continue reading