On February 18, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and concerned, regional residents testified at a WIRT-recorded, remote, public hearing, held via teleconference by the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington. Most citizens who participated in oral remarks denounced a Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) permit application to convert the DJS 2-14 oil and gas extraction well into the first, Idaho, Class II oil and gas waste, underground injection control (UIC) well, in the Willow Sands field northeast of New Plymouth in Payette County [1, 2]. The Friday morning meeting also addressed SROG’s request for an exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground drinking water source. The EPA has issued a draft record of decision claiming that the aquifer is so contaminated, either by the incompatible presence of hydrocarbons or by operation of dozens of nearby oil and gas wells, that it cannot practically provide recovery of water for human consumption in the future. Idaho activists continue to assert in testimony and comments that the EPA should reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.
According to EPA and SROG officials, fluids injected into the DJS 2-14 well to depths between 4,900 and 5,500 feet below the surface would be separated from shallow, drinking water aquifers by claystone confining intervals. However, SROG would implement “high-pressure injection of radioactive, chemical-laden, carcinogenic, industrial waste deep underground, directly through critical drinking water aquifers,” a common industry method that has poisoned private and public waters and caused earthquakes in oil and gas producing states during the last few decades . SROG contends that it is only reinjecting naturally produced “water” into its original formations, neglecting to mention the “trade secret” toxic substances and hazardous materials used to drill wells and produce hydrocarbons at associated, local facilities. This waste injection well would serve as the dumping hole, with predictably cracked, leaking casings, for millions of gallons of contaminated and possibly distantly transported, industry byproducts.
Through a possibly ghost-written, opinion piece in the conservative, online publication, Idaho Dispatch, Richard Brown of SROG attempted to disparage and discredit the valid concerns of CAIA and jeopardized Idahoans defending themselves from SROG’s toxic practices and damaging Class II wells . Fortunately, his inaccurate depictions of potentially harmed home and business owners provided opportunities for an excellent rebuttal by CAIA president Shelley Brock, full of information from the attorneys, FracTracker Alliance, and academic and oil and gas industry expert Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, who have assisted CAIA over the last 18 months. These credible sources encourage people to fight the corporate and government corruption, water contamination, and methane emissions of this first Idaho and all injection well permits and aquifer exemptions [4, 5].
After receiving multiple requests from members of the public, during the February 18 hearing, the EPA extended the deadline for public comments on this injection well application and aquifer exemption, from February 28 to 5 pm Mountain time on Wednesday, March 30. Please send written, emailed (not mailed) messages and attachments to Evan Osborne (U.S. EPA Region 10 Ground Water and Drinking Water Section, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 155, MS 19-H16, Seattle, Washington 98101) at firstname.lastname@example.org, specifically requesting another 30-day, comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in posted WIRT action alerts and their links . Include “UIC Class II Injection Well Draft Permit & Draft Aquifer Exemption Public Comment” in the subject line and your name, address, and telephone number in your statement, or call 206-553-1747 between 1 and 4 pm on Mondays through Fridays, to offer oral comments by phone.
For relevant facts and public input suggestions, see the enclosed and previous, WIRT, talking points, listen to the 36-minute, EPA hearing, and review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website [1, 6, 7]. Although its airs only a few hours before the current comment period ends, we also invite you to listen to a conversation with Shelley Brock of CAIA, recorded for WIRT’s Climate Justice Forum radio program that weekly describes grassroots, frontline resistance to the fossil fuel causes of climate change, broadcast every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, from progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow . By March 29, we further encourage you to sign an informal, ongoing, public petition that has gathered hundreds of regional, hard-copy signatures since September 2014, demanding bans of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well treatments and oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho .
Please load the public record with as much credible evidence as possible, including entire news articles and government documents, to influence the EPA to deny SROG’s Class II disposal well permit and aquifer exemption requests. Unfortunately, like many federal agency personnel more pressured by industry than citizens, the EPA has mostly heard from the SROG/state of Idaho alliance about these proposals. Educating the EPA on prior wrongs inflicted by SROG may cause agency professionals to doubt the geological evidence presented by industry, and to seek other assessments. Contact CAIA or WIRT with questions and for additional information and comment guidance. Continue reading