Keep It in the Ground: Idaho BLM Oil & Gas Lease Protest 2


BLM Sheep Ridge Oil & Gas Lease Parcels 7-27-16

Activists Call on the Obama Administration to End Fossil Fuel Leases on Public Lands

On Wednesday, July 27, at 8 am, dozens of activists from five regional conservation and climate activist groups are holding a “Keep It in the Ground” (KING) rally and protest of the second Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease auction of Payette County federal lands and minerals [1, 2].  At its Idaho State Office in Boise, the BLM plans to offer and sell leases for fossil fuel development on 9,242 acres of Sheep Ridge public lands around the producing and plugged-pending-pipelines oil and gas wells in the Big Willow Creek area seven miles north of New Plymouth [3, 4].

This protest contributes toward a growing, nationwide Keep It in the Ground movement concerned about the climate warming and environmental destruction caused by ongoing fossil fuel extraction and consumption.  KING coalition organizations, such as the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and the Sierra Club, are urging President Obama to expand his climate legacy by stopping new oil and gas leases on public lands, just as he did with coal leases.  On June 18, 2016, in Yosemite National Park, the president said that the greatest threat to all national parks is climate change.

Groups across the western U.S. are planning similar “Keep It in the Ground” rallies for upcoming lease sales, like the one in Roswell, New Mexico, that the BLM has postponed, and past demonstrations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Reno, Nevada.  The organizations co-sponsoring the rally and protest in Boise on July 27 include Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Idaho Chapter Sierra Club, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT).

Educating the public about and confronting southwest Idaho oil and gas development throughout our five years, WIRT members are grateful and relieved to work with other groups joining the too-few activists under great duress at three previous auctions of public lands and minerals since April 2014 [5-10].  We encourage you to accompany us on the frontlines of public lands liquidation to the oil and gas industry, at this fourth oil and gas lease auction protest in Boise.  If you can carpool to and from Boise with other north Idaho activists for this significant demonstration, please contact WIRT by email, phone, or facebook message.

Concerned Idahoans are standing up for their rights on Wednesday, July 27, and telling the BLM that public lands in Idaho are not for sale to dangerous extractive industries overrunning our beautiful state.  Bring your soft signs, banners, and enthusiasm, and meet at 8 am MDT at the southwest corner of the Walmart parking lot, close to Burger King, near West Overland Road and South Vinnell Way in Boise.

Participants will cross Vinnell to the BLM Idaho State Office at 1387 South Vinnell Way (on the left, to the south).  The oil and gas lease auction in the Sagebrush Conference Room begins at 9 am and will likely conclude by 12 noon.  Entering this government building requires presenting photo identification and signing in for the auction (and action!). Continue reading

Monday Oil & Gas Talk & Idaho House Vote


Calvin Tillman in Boise

On Monday, March 7, at 6:30 pm, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) is hosting a talk/presentation by the former mayor of Dish, Texas, Calvin Tillman, entitled How Will Oil and Gas Activity Change Your Community?, at the Lincoln Auditorium in the Idaho State Capitol, 700 West Jefferson Street in Boise, Idaho [1, 2]. Currently an Aubrey, Texas, city council member, Mr. Tillman will share his years of direct experience with oil and gas development, as an elected official and impacted father and homeowner.  Please see the attached flyer for further information about this event that Idaho Public Television will livestream at this link, for Idahoans and friends to watch it on their computers [3].

Stop S1339 in the Idaho House

The full Idaho House of Representatives has delayed voting on Senate Bill 1339 (S1339), the industry-promoted law that would expedite oil and gas development permits, reduce opportunities for public input and appeals, further advance forced pooling and leasing of unwilling mineral interests owners, and thus compromise private property rights, not to mention more essential human rights to healthful air, water, and soil [4]. Please comment to your legislators and all House members before their probable full chamber vote on S1339 on Monday, March 7.  See the last two Wild Idaho Rising Tide alerts on this issue, for further information and talking points [5, 6], and call 208-332-1000 or 800-626-0471 and/or email lawmakers at these listed addresses [7].  S1339 will affect all the citizens of Idaho and their rights to defend themselves from oil and gas development invasions. Continue reading

Friday: Tell Idaho Representatives to Vote No on Senate Bill 1339!


On Friday, March 4, at an unknown time, the full Idaho House of Representatives will hold the final vote on Senate Bill 1339 (S1339) [1, 2]. The Senate Resources and Environment Committee passed S1339 to the Senate floor on Friday, February 19, after an Alta Mesa oil and gas company attorney pushed for bill hearing closure, before all of the subsequently angry citizens present could testify.  Only Democrat committee member Michelle Stennett voted against this bill that, if passed by the Idaho Legislature and codified as an emergency law by Governor Otter’s signature, would expedite Idaho oil and gas development permitting procedures and further severely limit due process, associated public input and appeals, and information available to citizens, some forced to develop their mineral interests and most concerned about fossil fuel project impacts to private and public lands, water, air, and property rights [3-5].

According to Betsy Russell’s Eye on Boise, “after a two-hour debate, the Idaho Senate voted 31-4 in favor of SB 1339, a controversial proposal to streamline the process for issuing permits for oil and gas wells. The bill drew close to 100 people to an earlier hearing, most of them opposed…The bill now moves to the House side.  The Senate vote came just after 6:30 p.m. Boise time, half an hour after the Senate had been scheduled to conclude its late-afternoon session, which started at 4:30.  It was the only bill taken up.” [6]  On Tuesday, March 1, the Idaho House Resources and Conservation Committee held a hearing on this industry-promoted bill and passed S1339 on a two-to-one ratio [7].  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) emailed letters of opposition to both Senate and House committees.

Meanwhile, on Monday, February 22, over 150 citizens participated in a rally on the Capitol steps in Boise, protesting the bill and oil and gas industry and infrastructure abuses of Idaho citizen health, private property rights, and essential air, water, and soil quality, at the Don’t Frack Idaho Statehouse Rally, hosted by Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability [8-12]. Organizing protests and rallies against oil and gas development around the state since 2012, WIRT activists are grateful that more than a few dozen Idahoans are finally displaying widespread resistance.

If the Idaho legislature could possibly defend your interests, please contact all of the state representatives, to oppose full Idaho House floor passage of S1339. See the comprehensive list of representative email addresses at citation 7 and talking point suggestions at the following links [13, 14].  NOW is your last chance to write to or call them on this issue, urging them to vote against this legislation that forces oil and gas development on unwilling land and mineral rights owners and that dismisses the public’s best interests and participation in permitting decisions.  Thank you! Continue reading

Friday Oil & Gas Bill Hearing & Monday Boise Protest/Carpools


Please take urgent action on these two significant Idaho oil and gas resistance events.  Thanks to Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) of Fruitland, Idaho, for organizing and sharing news about them!  Contact CAIA with your questions and suggestions at info@integrityandaccountability.org, IntegrityAndAccountability.org, or 208-963-5707.

Friday: Oppose Idaho Senate Bill 1339

The first oil and gas bill of the 2016 session is printed and scheduled to be heard on Friday, February 19, at 1:30 pm MST, first on the day’s agenda of the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee [1, 2].  Attorney Kate Haas of the law firm Kestrel West, representing the primary Idaho oil and gas development company, Alta Mesa, will present Senate Bill 1339 (S1339) in Room WW55 of the Idaho Capitol in Boise [3].  Please participate in this hearing by attending in support of bill opponents, submitting your written comments in advance or in person, and/or speaking against S1339 for up to three minutes.  Contact Committee members by phone or email before the hearing.

Call 208-332-1323 and/or email sres@senate.idaho.gov, to extend your comments to all of the committee members together, or write to each and all of them at their individual addresses: Steve Bair <sbair@senate.idaho.gov>, Clifford Bayer <cbayer@senate.idaho.gov>, Marv Hagedorn <mhagedorn@senate.idaho.gov>, Lee Heider <lheider@senate.idaho.gov>, Roy Lacey <rlacey@senate.idaho.gov>, Sherry Nuxoll <snuxoll@senate.idaho.gov>, Jeff Siddoway <jsiddoway@senate.idaho.gov>, Michelle Stennett <mstennett@senate.idaho.gov>, Steve Vick <sjvick@senate.idaho.gov>.

S1339 would expedite all Idaho oil and gas development applications and further exclude Idahoans from crucial public input, as described in the following and attached, useful, talking points.  As an emergency bill, effective with Governor Otter’s signature, S1339 would essentially and immediately strip all due public process from oil and gas permitting in Idaho, risking the integrity of Idaho law and private and public property rights.  Compounding ongoing oil and gas industry degradation of the health and safety of Idahoans and their environment, this legislation, if passed over strong citizen objections, would: Continue reading

WIRT Newsletter: BLM Oil & Gas Lease Protest Report & Postponed State Auctions, Integration Applications, & WIRT Meetings


July WIRT Meetings

We have rescheduled the twice-monthly Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) potluck/pizza meetings in July, due to the Fourth of July holiday and July/August WIRT availability in Sandpoint.  Please join WIRT activists at 7 pm next Thursday, July 9, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, and at 7 pm on Saturday,  July 18, at Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue in Sandpoint, Idaho.  WIRT and allies are scheming multiple summer events expanding the movement against extreme energy, through powerful convergences, training camps, and direct actions for a livable future.  Please visit often the constantly updated Events Calendar on the WIRT website and/or contact WIRT for the descriptions, logistics, carpools, and directions to climate justice activities in the inland Northwest region [1].  Get involved in emerging, grassroots, fossil fuels resistance and solidarity with our comrades across the continent, confronting the root causes of climate change!

State Oil and Gas Lease Auction Postponed (Again)!

Throughout 2015, WIRT has been promising, preparing for, and posting about our planned protest of the next auction of oil and gas leases on state lands and minerals by the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL).  The IDL website now notes that “this [July 1] auction has been postponed [for the fourth time this year (January, April, June, and July)!] until the fall of 2015, with an exact date to be determined [October 21, 2015?].  Information on the auction is subject to change.” [2]  Idaho has leased none of its public holdings for oil and gas exploitation this year!

Drilling Unit Integration Applications Stalled!

Another Idaho gasland “set-back” for oil and gas developers Alta Mesa!  The 21-day period for formal public comments and responses from impacted land and minerals owners to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ended on June 29 and 30, for two Alta Mesa Services applications for integration (forced pooling by the state of non-compliant, private, potential oil and gas leasers), dated June 8 and 9.  But according to the Idaho Department of Lands website, “IDL requested additional information from the applicant, and an amended application is expected [3].  The applications posted here are for public informational purposes only and are not being considered by IDL or the Commission at this time.”  Congratulations to our southern Idaho comrades for their great work in holding off the gashole frackers! [4, 5]

Idaho BLM Oil and Gas Lease Protest Report

At a public auction in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday, May 28, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leased 6,349 acres in the Little Willow Creek watershed in Payette County for oil and gas exploration drilling [6, 7].  A lone Wild Idaho Rising Tide protester clad in an organizational T-shirt attended the auction, confronting the BLM with every question she could muster, witnessing possibly rigged, procedural discrepancies, and learning that allies had filed complaints of which few people aware [8]. Continue reading

Idaho BLM Oil & Gas Lease Protest


Proposed BLM Oil & Gas Protective Leasing Area

On Thursday, May 28, 2015, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allied activists plan to protest the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oral auction and sale of leases of public oil and gas and minerals in the Little Willow Creek watershed six miles east of Payette, Idaho [1].  Managing 700 million acres of sub-surface minerals and more acreage (245 million) than any other federal agency, mostly in the western U.S. and Alaska, the BLM operates under the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Its Idaho State Office, at 1387 South Vinnell Way in Boise, will open registration to the public and prospective buyers at 7:45 am on Thursday and will begin the auction at 9 am in the Sagebrush Conference Room, offering five parcels totaling 6,475 acres for minimum lease bids of $2 per acre, following the national standard.  According to a map of the BLM proposed Little Willow Creek oil and gas leasing area, only one of the smaller parcels is available for oil and gas development, while the majority of the tracts could provide opportunities for private extraction of all federal minerals present [2].

Although the BLM asserts that this lease sale would “prevent federally owned oil and gas from being drained without compensation to the United States in the form of royalties,” “by law the Bureau of Land Management cannot auction off public lands to the oil and gas industry unless drainage is actually occurring” [2, 3].  For years, the primary architect of recent oil and gas wells, a processing plant expanded before completion, and gathering lines connecting all of this Payette County infrastructure, Alta Mesa Idaho (AMI) has pressured the BLM to open its public resources to its pursuits.  AMI’s environmentally, socially, and financially irresponsible onslaught of development has begrudged mandated, protracted, public review of BLM leasing proposals within the context of broader federal regulations, significantly more stringent that state oversight.  The Boise-based BLM Four Rivers Field Office confirmed in April 2015 that “no surface occupancy and no subsurface occupancy will be permitted until the Four Rivers Resource Management Plan is completed, which is scheduled for 2016” [1]. Continue reading

WIRT Comments on Alta Mesa Revised Smoke Ranch 1-20 Drilling Permit


Smoke Ranch 1-20 Well Map 2

WIRT Comments on Alta Mesa Revised Smoke Ranch 1-20 Drilling Permit 12-7-14

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) again dismissed Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) comments on a pending Alta Mesa drilling permit and once more did not post these WIRT comments to the IDL website. Despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation, we worked as diligently as possible to comment and further delay construction of the Smoke Ranch 1-20 oil and gas well a few hundred feet from the Payette River. According to the IDL website, Alta Mesa is currently DRILLING this 4000-foot-deep floodplain intrusion, imposing grave risks on Idahoans and their potentially polluted drinking water supplies, nearby wildlife refuges, agricultural production and reliant economies, and recreational uses of the Payette River and downstream Snake River and Hells Canyon. THANKS to Joe Morton, the Idaho Conservation League, and everyone who commented before both deadlines. As one of only a few participants in the extended comment period, we can attest that this well will offer few benefits to Idahoans, especially when the power of heavy, frequent floods scour the well pad and tree, located closer to the Payette River and wildlife refuge islands to the southeast than marked in this map. See our linked comments and the December 7 WIRT Newsletter.

Statewide Gas Lease Auction Protests 10-15-14


20141015_094627

Statewide Gas Lease Auction Protests 10-15-14 (October 15, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, beginning at 8:30 am MDT, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allies converged and protested for a second time another auction of oil and gas leases of state lands and sub-surface mineral rights conducted by the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) for the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners [1]. Held in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Trophy Conference Room in Boise, Idaho, the public meeting offered 11 tracts totaling 5,250 acres in Cassia, Gem, and Owyhee Counties, including 600 acres in Cassia County and 160 acres in Gem County of state lands and 4,479 acres in Owyhee County of split estates with private landowners and state mineral holders.

Although citizens at the auction observed four bidders, only the drilling companies Alta Mesa Idaho of Houston, Texas, and Trendwell West of Rockford, Michigan, paid an average of $46 per acre on purportedly competitive, oral bids for subsequent ten-year leases [2, 3]. Increasing the current tally to nearly 98,000 leased state acres (besides thousands of leased private acres in six southwestern counties), IDL raised $263,000 from the auction of state public trust and endowment trust lands and minerals for oil and gas exploitation, “benefitting” the general fund, state wildlife and transportation departments, and specific educational and beneficiary institutions.  The state will receive a 12.5 percent royalty on any resulting oil and gas extracted from producing wells impacting lands, resources, and waterways at bargain prices.

At the successful, three-woman Statewide Gas Lease Auction Protest in Boise, which delayed the auction for a half-hour, the Idaho Department of Lands leased 160 acres of state lands in Gem County for only one dollar per acre. The first ever Cassia County acres went for only $10 per acre, but the other nine parcels in Owyhee County elicited $40 to $55 per acre, with one at $105 [4].  These discrepancies infer (at least to WIRT) that oil and gas industry representatives are leery to invest in Gem County drilling, due to the County Commissioners’ recent decision to establish a committee guiding and (hopefully soon) implementing independent, legally defensible, baseline, water quality sampling and testing of water bodies and wells prior to potentially harmful oil and gas activities.  Congratulations, Gem County activists! Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Alma Hasse 10-20-14


Alma Hasse in Jail

PLEASE CALL IN: 208-892-9200!  The Monday, October 20, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes leading Idaho citizen fractivist and co-founder of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, Alma Hasse.  Alma will share her experiences of her wrongful arrest at an October 9 Payette County planning and zoning meeting approving a natural gas processing plant expansion and her week-long incarceration and hunger strike confined to a holding cell while refusing to participate in the booking process.  She will also discuss the government, industry, and resistance background and implications of oil and gas development for civil liberties and property rights in Idaho.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show also covers continent-wide climate activism news and dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her/his KRFP DJ.