WIRT Newsletter: New Gas Well Comments & WIRT Events This Week

Little Willow Gathering Facility

Alta Mesa’s Little Willow Gathering Facility north of New Plymouth (Idaho Statesman photo/caption)

Stop New Little Willow Gas Well Drilling!

The 15-day public comment period closes on Friday, November 13, for providing your written opposition to yet another permit application for oil and gas well drilling, presumably on Simplot lands (in the Butch Otter family) up Little Willow Road in Payette County, Idaho [1]. Houston-based Alta Mesa has proposed a new well, ML Investments 2-3, about seven miles east of Payette, and has requested that application reviewers and permit issuers at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) protect its 41 pages of application documents from public disclosure.  A company official contends that much, if not all, of the drilling application information is either confidential for security reasons (as stamped on multiple pages) or meets Freedom of Information Act and Idaho law exemptions prohibiting the disclosure of trade secrets.  Nonetheless, IDL posted the application with redactions on its website on Wednesday, October 28.

Alta Mesa last filed a drilling permit application in November/December 2014, when the Idaho Conservation League and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) separately contested the proposed Smoke Ranch 1-20 well, located only a few hundred feet from the Payette River, and caused application revision and re-submission [2, 3]. According to the IDL website, the company never drilled that well, but has brought five other wells into production during 2015, besides the State 1-17 well that Bridge Resources drilled with ten others in 2009-10, sold to Alta Mesa in 2012, and started up in March 2014 [4].  Alta Mesa is also now extracting gas from the Bridge Resources-drilled ML Investments 1-10 well, claiming that it and the State 1-17 well are wildcat wells drawing from an unproven reservoir.  Nine of the Bridge Resources wells have been shut in pending a pipeline; Bridge intended to frack four of these holes (the Espino 1-2, Korn 1-22, Tracy Trust 3-2, and White 1-10 wells from among the DJS Properties 1-14 and 1-15 and Island Capitol 1-19 wells).

The Texas company has flared several wells since early 2013, and is pulling gas from four of the eight wells that it has drilled since the heavily protested, now shut-in Smoke Ranch 1-21 well (farther from the river than 1-20) in July 2013 [5, 6]. Drilled into the Willow gas field and reservoir, in the hills surrounding Little Willow Creek and Road, the ML Investments 1-11 and 2-10 wells and the Kauffman 1-9 and 1-34 wells are now producing [7].  (The Kauffman couple bid as apparently agreed-upon underdogs in the most recent, May 2015 auction of oil and gas leases on Idaho state lands and minerals [8].)  Alta Mesa has shut in the DJS Properties 2-14 well and not drilled the ML Investments 1-3 well.  Despite numerous errors, missing information, and described harmful practices in seven of eight Alta Mesa drilling applications commented on by WIRT (except the DJS Properties 2-14 well), IDL has not rejected, or required Alta Mesa to revise and re-submit, any of its previous applications [9].

The epicenter of industry ruination of clean water, air, and land and mineral owners’ rights, Payette County stands as the only county with actively producing wells in a state with a questionable amount of historically untapped oil and gas resources. Despite a year delay in drilling new wells in the area, Alta Mesa asserts that “This will not be the last drilling application the county will see,” and that it would like to “drill as many wells as soon as possible,” to maximize private and public oil and gas assets [1].  After the comment period concludes on November 13, the Idaho Department of Lands could again reject or approve Alta Mesa’s drilling application, and new well work could begin by November 16, if weather and other variables do not impede the process.

Please do not forego this opportunity to change the course of Idaho energy development, by commenting in opposition to this 21st contemporary oil and gas well in the Treasure Valley, including the botched and possibly plugged Smith 1-10 well drilled by Trendwell West during spring 2014 near Notus in Canyon County [10]. Peruse the online Alta Mesa application, borrow liberally from WIRT comments on seven prior wells, and state your contentions to IDL through its website or via email sent to comments@idl.idaho.gov, by 12 midnight MST on Friday, November 13, 2015 [9, 11].  IDL will post relevant comments on its website after comment period closure, too late for consideration by other potential commenters.

November 12 WIRT Moscow Potluck

The WIRT First Thursday Moscow Monthly Meeting and Potluck is happening at 7 pm on Thursday evening, November 12 [12]. Gather at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.  Along with southwest Idaho activists on November 15 and Sandpoint area residents on November 19, we are planning November Flood the System actions on both sides of the state.

November 15 Idaho Flood the System Training

Due to popular demand, WIRT and allies are hosting a sixth Idaho Flood the System Training, as we and associated groups continue to mobilize regional residents for coordinated, continent-wide, #FloodTheSystem, fall actions and agency hearings on Northwest coal and oil train terminals. Join us between 12 noon and 3 pm on Sunday, November 15, at the main, downtown Boise Public Library Gates Room, 715 South Capitol Boulevard in Boise, for another non-violent direct action training workshop led by Rising Tide network trainers [13].

[1] Payette County Could Get New Gas Well (October 30, 2015 Argus Observer)

[2] “Smoke Ranch 1-20” website search (November 11, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[3] Gas Well to be Drilled near Payette River (November 19, 2014 Independent-Enterprise)

[4] Oil and Gas Drill Permits (Idaho Department of Lands)

[5] WIRT Newsletter: Coal Export and Megaload Protests, Payette County Gas Flaring, Idaho County Frackers (January 18, 2013 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[6] “Smoke Ranch”, “Stop the Frack Attack” website search (November 11, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[7] Map: Active Oil and Gas Wells Drilled or Permitted, January 1, 2009, through September 30, 2015 (Idaho Department of Lands)

[8] WIRT Newsletter: BLM Oil and Gas Lease Protest Report and Postponed State Auctions, Integration Applications, and WIRT Meetings (July 3, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[9] “WIRT Comments”, “Alta Mesa” website search (November 11, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide, first five entries)

[10] In Idaho, Waiting on the Natural Gas Industry (June 30, 2014 Idaho Statesman)

[11] 2015-1028 Application for Permit to Drill ML Investments 2-3 (October 23, 2015 Alta Mesa Services)

[12] WIRT Newsletter: November WIRT Events (November 5, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[13] Idaho Flood the System Trainings (October 19, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

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