Gas Well Spacing & Lakeside Logging Comments, Tribal Paddle & Oil Train Protest Reports, & More


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) offers these updates, condensed and compiled in chronological order from posts shared during summer 2020, on the WIRT facebook page and weekly Climate Justice Forum radio program.  Please learn about and comment against fossil fuels and forest exploitation proposals, advanced by Idaho state and federal government agencies at the behest of profiteering companies marauding private and public resources, and support and partake in grassroots and indigenous demonstrations of resistance to these invasions that risk and degrade human and environmental health and safety.

July 2: Stop Oil Trains Report

WIRT organizers appreciate everyone who publicized and/or participated in the seventh annual, regional, Stop Oil Trains 2020 events on June 25 through July 2, honoring the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, fires, and explosions in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, in Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and potentially in all rail corridor, frontline communities threatened by the risks and pollution of crude oil pipelines-on-rails [1, 2].  We are especially grateful for David Perk of 350 Seattle and allied, Northwest activists for an interactive, teleconferenced, train watch training workshop, and for Occupy and WIRT volunteers who hosted an outreach table during Sandpoint Farmers Market, gathered signatures for the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, and displayed spotlighted, environmental and social justice messages within the “bomb train blast zones” of downtown Spokane and Sandpoint.  As WIRT continues to confront up to 30 weekly, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and Union Pacific Railroad trains, hauling volatile Bakken shale oil and sinkable Alberta tar sands, and to resist Northwest fossil fuels-by-rail export terminals, refineries, and railroad bridge and track expansions, we will update this report and post more photos of the Stop Oil Trains 2020 week of actions [3].

July 30: CAIA Quarterly Newsletter

Thanks to Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), for their quarterly, July to September 2020 newsletter featuring updates on CAIA president Shelley Brock’s bid for an Idaho state representative position, CAIA and Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meetings, cancellation of the July 2020 auction of state oil and gas leases, and other fossil fuels and public water and lands issues [4].  Please help stop Treasure Valley hydrocarbon extraction and resource exploitation, by answering three CAIA calls to action prompting citizen resistance to proposed, oil and gas well spacing and drilling and resulting, force-pooled leasing in Fruitland, Idaho.

August 1: Fourth Remember the Water Paddle Report

During the mid-summer heat and cool, full moonlit nights of late July and early August 2020, members of the Kalispel, Colville, and Spokane tribes, the River Warrior Society, and canoe families continued the historic and now annual tradition of the Fourth Remember the Water Paddle.  As supporters and equipment drivers watched and talked at 9 am on Thursday morning, July 30, groups of four to seven paddlers prepared and began their journey in three traditional, big, wooden canoes carved from cedar tree trunks and launched on Lake Pend Oreille, from south City Beach Park in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho.  They navigated under the BNSF Railway and U.S. Highway 95 bridges, onto Pend Oreille River currents over the course of 50-plus miles and three days, and arrived without an annual, cancelled powwow deadline this year, at the Kalispel reservation near Usk, Washington, at 7 pm on Saturday, August 1.  Read the WIRT report and view a video and photos of the event, through the enclosed links [5, 6].  Thanks and congratulations to all who shared this creative, successful Fourth Remember the Water Paddle!

August 4: Phyllis Kardos Primary Election Victory

Cheers for District 1 Pend Oreille County commissioner candidate Phyllis Kardos, who has won the Washington primary election [7]!  With faith in Phyllis’s sensible approaches to community responsibility, positive political changes, and environmental protection within a conservative stronghold, especially amid county decisions concerning the proposed Newport silicon smelter, WIRT activists will continue to support Phyllis’s campaign for election on November 3, through endorsement and outreach.  We encourage the western neighbors of the Idaho Panhandle to vote for Phyllis Kardos!

August 5: Idaho Gas Well Drilling Comments

In early August 2020, in response to a Snake River Oil and Gas application to drill the Barlow 2-14 “hydrocarbon well a mere 20 feet from the Barlow 1-14 [well]” and a public comment period on the proposal, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability president Shelley Brock, attorney James Piotrowski, and Fruitland residents sent letters of objection to the Idaho Department of Lands, stating legal reasons for denial of the drilling permit [8-10].  They described potential harms to resources and violations of Idaho statutes that state approval of the oil and gas well on the floodplain banks of the Payette River would inflict, such as leaking well components and wasting of the hydrocarbon pool by allowing two wells within the same spacing unit and geologic structure [11].

Comment by August 27: Idaho Gas Well Spacing Units

On Thursday, August 13, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) oil and gas director Mick Thomas held two hearings on the first of two or more 2020, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) applications for Payette County spacing units (docket number CC-2020-OGR-01-001) in and near Fruitland, Idaho.  This application establishes the first step that, if approved by the state within 30 days (by September 13) and followed by an integration order, would “force pool” unwilling citizens into leasing their privately owned oil and gas resources.  The spacing unit encompasses mineral rights holders around the Fallon 1-10 well directionally drilled in 2018, but not yet producing oil and gas, on the floodplain banks across the Payette River and under the city of Fruitland water intake plant, near U.S. Highway 95.  Prompted by Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) partners, WIRT wrote and sent comments on behalf of our 3,200-plus activists, members, and friends, in objection to this water-endangering scheme in mid-June 2020 [12]. Continue reading

UI Online Classes Petition, Gas Well Comments, Anti-Smelter Candidate, Panhandle Paddle, & More


June 22 & Ongoing: WIRT Co-Founder Medical Support

Cass Davis, a “left-neck,” rebel rouser, and native Idahoan of the Silver Valley, has been building north Idaho community resistance in Moscow for decades.  As one of the co-founders of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), he has tirelessly worked and served as a fellow board member and organizer with KRFP Radio Free Moscow, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, and Silver Valley Community Resource Center.  An early, WIRT, video compilation and call to action features Cass at 1:13, before his arrest during 2011-12 tar sands megaload protests and blockades [1].

Cass suffered a heart attack in late May 2020, and needs donations to help him recover and heal over the next year [2].  Please contribute however you can, by donating to this fundraiser for his medical and other basic expenses, and/or by volunteering more actively in social justice and environmental protection issues and participating in community events.  He says that “One of the biggest things that will ease my stress is seeing more people involved, more people civically engaged” [2].  We couldn’t agree more, dear comrade Cass!

July 18: Coalition Defense of Paradise Ridge Wetlands

In a letter to Moscow-Pullman Daily News editors, published on July 18, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) board members, including representatives of WIRT, one of the PRDC member organizations, responded to inaccurate, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 2 information echoed in a July 3 news article about expansion and relocation of 6.5 miles of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow, from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane, divided highway [3-5].  Among other contentions addressed by PRDC, the piece states that ITD expects the $53 million project, “slated to start construction this year” but delayed until next spring, to reach completion in 2022 [5].

It dismissively asserts that “legal challenges to the project ended in December 2018, when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of ITD and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).  The [Paradise] Ridge Defense Coalition submitted a lawsuit against the FHA and ITD, regarding the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision in April 2017, which claimed the highway’s expansion would cut through a section of Paradise Ridge and lead to loss of wetlands, remnants of Palouse Prairie, farmland, and conservation reserve.  A federal judge ruled against the motion and in favor of the FHA and ITD in August 2017, but the coalition appealed…[ITD] does not anticipate another appeal or lawsuit” [5].

August 2: University of Idaho Online-Only Classes Petition

By late Sunday, August 2, please read, sign, and share a petition initiated, circulated, and supported by concerned residents of Moscow and the Palouse region [6].  In opposition to the unnecessary risks of performing on-campus, in-person teaching and learning, it requests that the University of Idaho (UI) engage innovative opportunities to hold online classes during fall semester 2020.  Seeking to ensure conditions conducive to the health and safety of UI and community students and employees, organizers will present the petition to UI president Scott Green on Monday, August 3.

With similar goals, UI staff and faculty members delivered a letter to Green, “urging university leaders to allow employees who work closely with students to choose to work remotely, without fear of reprisal or the need to fill out a [disability] waiver.  [It] neared 300 signatures as of Thursday, [July 30,]…including 123 tenured professors, eight of whom are distinguished professors.  …The letter said cases of COVID-19 in Idaho are increasing exponentially, with current case numbers far surpassing those seen in March, when the school canceled in-person instruction for the first time…An increasing number of colleges across the country are choosing to go online for the fall semester, including nearby Washington State University” [7]. Continue reading

WIRT Comments on Spacing Application CC-2020-OGR-01-001


On Thursday, June 11, 2020, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), on behalf of itself and its over 3,200 climate activists, members, friends, supporters, and allies, offered written comments and accompanying information in a letter of objection to Snake River Oil and Gas’ (SROG) February 24, 2020 Application for Spacing (docket number CC-2020-OGR-01-001), its potential approval by the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), and resulting infrastructure construction and operation for oil and gas extraction within the Payette River watershed in the Fruitland, Idaho, area.  The official state record for the SROG application, posted at the IOGCC Administrative Hearings website page, includes pertinent government notices, company documents, and the public comments of impacted and concerned Idaho citizens and residents.

WIRT Comments on Spacing Application CC-2020-OGR-01-001

 

Forced Pooling & Acid Fracking in Idaho


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is completing newsletters about eighth WIRT celebrations, dismissal of our state court case against doubled, north Idaho, railroad bridges, a re-opened, Coast Guard, comment period on that BNSF proposal, and other related topics, delayed by a recent week of long-overdue rest.  But we are sending this 2019, southwest Idaho, oil and gas information first, drawn from WIRT facebook posts and lodged on the WIRT website on April 17, in solidarity and support of a Tuesday evening, April 16, talk in Moscow.

CAIA Presentation in Moscow

The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) will host a Skyped, slide presentation and talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, April 16, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho [1].  Shelley will discuss oil and gas well issues in Idaho, including landowner and CAIA, legal challenges of state forced pooling/integration processes, by which the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Lands force property owners to lease their mineral resources and rights to oil and gas companies.  Please attend this insightful event and/or contact SEC at sec@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7133, for further information.

Forced Pooling Court Decisions & Public Input

“U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill had ruled in August that the Idaho Department of Lands’ procedure for forcing mineral rights from unconsenting owners into pools for extraction violated due process.  After Winmill reaffirmed the ruling on February 1, the state faced a deadline early in March to formally appeal…CAIA, an Eagle-based group which had joined in the suit challenging the forced pooling methods, noted…that the state had opted not to contest Winmill’s ruling…Idaho Department of Lands hasn’t announced next steps to address the due process shortcoming [2].

…Unlike the CAIA-led suit against Idaho gas and oil regulators, the class action complaint filed March 1 in Payette County was brought by [nine local] lessors who signed [six] agreements to lease their mineral rights.  The complaint seeks to end [gas producer] Alta Mesa’s alleged practice of deducting a portion of the producer’s midstream expenses from the lessors’ royalty checks [that the oil and gas leases do not expressly authorize].  It also points to a requirement under the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Act that interest of 12 percent be added to royalty payments not paid within 60 days of their due date…The action is brought on behalf of the class of all ‘persons who are or were royalty owners in Idaho wells where defendants [various Alta Mesa entities and others] are or were the operator…from January 1, 2014 to the date class notice is given…The class claims relate to royalty payments for gas and its constituents (such as residue gas, natural gas liquids, or drip condensate)’” [2].

Despite a Tuesday, April 9, deadline for comments, please write an email to Kourtney Romine (kromine@idl.idaho.gov) at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and blind-copy your input to CAIA (sb-caia@hotmail.com), objecting to the state practice of forced lease pooling that allows oil and gas drilling operations against property and mineral owners’ wishes, and providing suggestions for better processes to protect vulnerable communities from similar, future activities, as prompted by the linked, CAIA, talking points and ideally regulated by proposed rulemaking [3].  If possible, also attend and/or watch the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) hearing at 1 pm on Tuesday, April 23, to pack room EW 42 of the state capitol and/or testify for three minutes about “just and reasonable” terms for future, forced pooling applications that impose inadequate compensation and profound risks on Idaho citizens.  Thanks to Shelley Brock of CAIA for her action alert!

Acid Fracking of Payette County Wells

Since July 2018, Alta Mesa has been matrix acidizing the tight sandstone formation reservoirs reached by Payette County oil and gas wells, with extremely hazardous hydrofluoric acid and xylene, chemically dissolving deposits and stimulating hydrocarbon flow under lower pressures than hydraulic fracturing (fracking), without providing essential information, undergoing application review, and sending final reports on well treatments and waste fluid disposal to state regulators, who did not file an unpublicized, administrative complaint and charges until February 5, 2019.  Meanwhile, IDL and Alta Mesa officials have countered numerous citizen concerns about hydraulic fracturing with public statements like one by Lieutenant Governor Brad Little during a televised, late-October 2018, gubernatorial debate: “There is no fracking in Idaho” [4].  Hundreds of informal, WIRT petition signatures against fracking and associated waste injection wells were stolen from a vehicle within days of that broadcast. Continue reading

Events Across Idaho This Week (July 18 to 21)


Wednesday, July 18, 7 pm, Sandpoint

WIRT & #No2ndBridge Meeting & Petition

Since two public hearings in Ponderay and Sandpoint on May 23, and two Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussions in Moscow and Sandpoint during June 2018, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) issued a final order on Thursday, June 21, approving Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s encroachment permit application for its proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project [1]. As explained in WIRT’s initial, draft analysis of the decision, IDL has deferred to antiquated, railroad land grant laws and 1000-plus pro-second bridge, BNSF, form letters [2].  Still requiring Clean Water Act water quality certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, dredge and fill approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and bridge permits from the lead, federal agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, BNSF plans to build two miles of doubled tracks, two temporary, work spans, and three permanent, parallel bridges west of existing rail infrastructure across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, Bridge Street, and downtown Sandpoint.

Grassroots, #No2ndBridge, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists are concerned about this near-conclusion of the state permitting process, and believe that our community should protect Lake Pend Oreille from this Northwest fossil fuels pipeline-on-wheels expansion, by resisting every advance of this proposal. Its construction could drill 1000 piles into train-spewed, lakebed, coal and other deposits in BNSF’s private right-of-way, releasing more pollution into regional, lake and aquifer, drinking water.  North Idaho groups and governments with greater capacity and non-profit status to litigate will probably not challenge dismissal by IDL and other state agencies of myriad, local concerns over significant, project impacts.  But we intend to dispute this permit through both conservative, Idaho courts and creative, frontline resistance, and are searching for attorney assistance around the IDL permit appeal filing deadline of Friday, July 20 [3].

Please participate in the third-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT, and #No2ndBridge meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday, July 18, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint. Event hosts invite everyone to bring and share snacks, refreshments, donations, and suggestions and referrals to lawyers who practice in Idaho and could advise or represent us before and after filing pro se in Bonner County district court.  We also ask that you print and circulate the accompanying, double-sided, informal #No2ndBridge Petition, and return it, filled with signatures, to WIRT at public events and farmers market outreach tables in Sandpoint and Moscow, on Saturdays throughout the season, where we hope to talk with you and provide printed material about this critical situation.

Visit the WIRT facebook and website pages for further, issue, and event updates and contact information for state and federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions. Request that local, state, and federal, elected, appointed, and agency officials conduct rigorous reviews and analyses of this north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel’ expansion, including federal, environmental impact studies and statements, and denounce, deny, and revoke all permits for this negligent and culpable project. Continue reading

Urgent! Comment by 1/11 Against Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Wells


On July 22, 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and the state of Idaho has since maintained primary, state regulation and enforcement authority (primacy) over all five classes of injection wells in Idaho, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, section 1422, through the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Because 1985 Idaho regulations prohibited Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in the state, this ban was codified in those EPA rules.  In 2013, the Idaho Legislature passed laws allowing these wells.  But during 2017 Idaho legislative hearings on oil and gas bills and rules, Idaho Governor Otter became aware that the lack of state government oversight of Class II injection wells was delaying oil and gas development in the Treasure Valley.  IDWR has not issued any Class II well permits, because the EPA has not approved the state’s proposed changes to its Class II, UIC program.  On August 25, 2017, the EPA received a letter from IDWR, formally requesting transfer of its responsibility for managing Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in Idaho to the EPA.  According to the EPA’s November 2017, Federal Register notice of this proposed rule revision, state-administered, Class II injection wells remain illegal in Idaho, under federal law [1-3].

Idaho agency efforts to uncharacteristically and aggressively transfer authority over Class II wells in our fifth most seismically active state to the EPA, headed by oil and gas industry friend and former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, seem like thinly veiled attempts to again hastily accommodate corporate profits at the expense of Idahoans’ public and environmental health.  Instead of conscientiously updating Idaho’s injection control program, the state is calling for this transfer of responsibility to the EPA, to facilitate cheaper, underground disposal of oil and gas drilling byproducts than in evaporation ponds near the Boise Airport, as soon as possible.  IDWR is thus side-stepping the existing, three-decade ban of Class II injection wells, risking and polluting Idaho groundwater and seismic stability, and circumventing both impacted, Idaho citizen review of Class II injection well regulations and lawsuits against the state for any damages resulting from these wells [4].  As suggested by state agency presentations on Class II wells, given to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on December 7, 2017, the Texas company currently producing oil and gas in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Alta Mesa, may request Safe Drinking Water Act exemptions of precious, water aquifers for its injection well program, and use already drilled, shut-in, (and defective?), hydrocarbon wells in Payette County, such as the DJS 2-14 well [5].

“Injection wells – which involve the high-pressure, underground dumping of millions of gallons of frack wastewater, which contains toxins, carcinogens, and other chemicals – cause earthquakes, can contaminate drinking water, and bring other environmental and public health impacts” [6].  In Oklahoma, insurance policies neither covered nor did anything to assist residents and businesses suffering huge losses from earthquakes, because the jolts were created by the oil and gas industry injecting massive quantities of wastewater and ‘produced’ water, laced with heavy salts, toxic chemicals, and radioactivity, directly into their aquifer, drinking water sources.  “In a normal year – that is, in almost any before 2009 – the state only saw one or two quakes.  It now experiences one to two quakes per day.  In 2015, it endured 857 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or higher, more than struck the rest of the lower 48 states combined” [7].  The EPA, Pulitzer Prize-winning journal ProPublica, popular videos, and others have all documented the inherent risks of Class II injection wells [8, 9].

Based on decades of observations and interactions with Idaho agencies and natural resource issues, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists do not necessarily agree that Idaho regulations would protect clean air, water, and lands, potentially degraded by Class II, oil and gas waste injection wells, better than federal agencies like the EPA [10].  But together, we, the people of Idaho, should not condone any local, state, or federal government or private company overturning the ongoing ban on Class II injection wells in Idaho, and thus let corporate forces once again elevate the rights of fossil fuel companies over the communities they violate with innumerable, significant harms.  WIRT suspects that any agency permitting Class II, waste injection wells could open the toxic floodgates for oil and gas well stimulation treatments like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Idaho, and its profuse use and pollution of our relatively pristine water.  In the high-desert environment of the rapidly growing, Treasure Valley population, where communities depend on clean water-based agriculture and recreation for their economic sustenance, we cannot afford to risk or waste underground water supplies also challenged by a warming, drying climate.

KEEP THE BAN ON EARTHQUAKE-INDUCING, WATER-POLLUTING, CLASS II, OIL & GAS WASTE INJECTION WELLS IN IDAHO! Continue reading

Oil & Gas Development & Resistance in Idaho Communities


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), and allied activists earnestly invite you to participate in a presentation and forum on fossil fuel extraction in Idaho, held at 7 pm on Saturday, April 29, in the 1912 Center Fiske Room, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho.  In the wake of the Lori Batina Memorial Climate March and the People’s Climate March in Sandpoint, we are grateful and honored to welcome Shelley Brock of CAIA in Eagle, Idaho, sharing with the Moscow-Pullman-Palouse community an evening talk about oil and gas development and resistance in Idaho communities and associated, practical solutions to the regional causes of the global climate crisis [1-3].

Through a brief presentation with photos, giving a descriptive overview of the current, Treasure Valley, oil and gas situation and offering a question-and-answer session and open forum afterward, Shelley will inform and show audience members the extent of Idaho oil and gas leasing, the effects of fossil fuels drilling and producing, and the efforts of citizen, legal challenges of integration (forced pooling) applications.  She will also bring and display a dozen posters and distribute printed material about these oil and gas industry invasions impacting landowners and taxpayers throughout the state.

This public education opportunity aims to empower and encourage Idahoans and their neighbors to gain and exchange knowledge and understanding of climate change sources in Idaho, to initiate and sustain effective, grassroots, resistance work, and to support concerned, fellow citizens on the southwest Idaho gasland frontlines.  The Union of Concerned Scientists states that, “In 2014, approximately 78 percent of U.S. global warming emissions were energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide.  Of this, approximately 42 percent was from oil and other liquids, 32 percent from coal, and 27 percent from natural gas.” [4]

During Earth Week outreach events at the University of Idaho and Washington State University, students expressed great interest in this talk.  With your friends and families, please attend this well researched, highly recommended presentation, to learn about new and expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, operations, rules and legislation, and organized opposition in Idaho and across the Northwest.  CAIA and WIRT appreciate your work on climate and fossil fuels issues and your potential participation in this forum with free admission and requested contributions toward discussions and event costs. Continue reading

Payette County Forced Pooling Protest


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IDAHO WATER IS LIFE!  FORCED POOLING IS DEATH!

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies at 8 am MST on Wednesday, December 14, for the Payette County Forced Pooling Protest on the Idaho Capitol steps at 700 West Jefferson Street in Boise, Idaho. Concerned citizens from throughout Idaho are coming together to stand in support of over 150 Payette County families and home, property, and business owners whom the state of Idaho and a Houston, Texas-based fossil fuel producer are pushing into oil and gas leases for integration, or “forced pooling,” of their private resources [1, 2].  Alta Mesa Idaho (AMI) integration applications to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission could impose extraction of Idahoans’ oil and gas, with or without their permission, from three new wells, and perhaps many more, on two adjacent, one-square-mile sections of land and another, smaller tract in and near the Fruitland community.  With state approval, Alta Mesa and other toxic intruders could directionally drill, hydraulically fracture (“frack”), and chemically “treat” these wells beneath and only 200 feet on the ground from a few hundred subdivision homes and other structures like schools and hospitals, and under, next to, or within less than a mile of the Snake and Payette rivers and their wetlands and floodplains, and below already leased U.S. Highway 95 (See the attached photos of spacing units).

At 9 am on Wednesday, December 14, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is holding the first administrative hearings on contested AMI forced pooling applications since the Idaho Legislature passed SB1339 in March 2016, the egregious statute that changes and rushes the integration process to benefit the oil and gas industry and trample citizen rights anywhere in the state. The advocacy group Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) has retained constitutional law attorney James Piotrowski, of the law firm Herzfeld and Piotrowski, to represent a group of unwillingly integrated, officially objecting, Payette County mineral owners [3, 4].  In the Lincoln Auditorium, Room WWO2 in the lower level of the Idaho Capitol west wing, integration objectors will challenge the legality of the proposed spacing units and of IDL’s due processes that afford impacted landowners insufficient time and information to consider forced pooling applications and to consult attorneys, banks, and insurance companies about the adverse financial consequences of integration on property rights, values, mortgages, and insurance.

Participate in the 8 am protest and attend the 9 am hearings, continued if necessary at the same locations on Thursday, December 15, to show your support of hardworking, tax-paying, Payette County and regional residents, by serving as protesters, observers, witnesses, and testifiers. Oil and gas industry invasions accommodated by state sanctioned forced pooling could inevitably jeopardize air and water quality and quantity, contaminate ground and surface water, wells, and agricultural lands, and ultimately degrade the sustainability and quality of life in Idaho.  Because citizens throughout the Treasure Valley – from eastern Oregon to Twin Falls and in Ada, Canyon, Cassia, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls, Washington, and other Idaho counties – could eventually endure the ravages of these same integration rules, Idahoans should demonstrate with a large turnout, noticed by public officials and media reporters, that a majority of us will confront these injustices that transcend southwestern Idaho.  In honor of Dakota Access pipeline resistance supporting the Standing Rock Sioux, it is time for us to rise up on Idaho’s fossil fuel frontlines and protect our waters and lands! Continue reading

Third Idaho Oil & Gas Lease Auction Protest


idaho-oil-gas-lease-tracts-for-auction-10-19-16

On Wednesday morning, October 19, southwest Idaho activists and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) are holding the third protest of a state oil and gas lease auction.  The Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners is selling 225 oil and gas leases of state lands and minerals at another public auction in Suite 103 Syringa North and South Conference Rooms at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) offices, 300 North Sixth Street in Boise, Idaho [1].

Before bidder arrival for registration begins at 8:30 am MDT for the 9 am auction, gather with us at 8 am at the east side of Capitol Park, across the street from IDL, and then on the public sidewalk in front of the main IDL west entrance.  Please bring your posters, signs, chants, and songs objecting to further liquidation of state resources for private industry profit, despite state-perceived benefits for public agencies, institutions, and programs.  See descriptions of the last two state oil and gas lease auction protests for ideas about messages and tactics to challenge this first such state auction in over two years [2-5].

The state of Idaho has already, currently leased tens of thousands of surface and subsurface acres to only a few companies, for looming oil and gas drilling and potential hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, and other risky well stimulation treatments.  Since 2009, Bridge Resources and its more aggressive successor, Alta Mesa of Houston, Texas, have drilled or received state permits for dozens of wells, planning more dirty energy development for the Treasure Valley and elsewhere in Idaho than the company ever reveals.

Apparent from the strange placement of bargain priced lease parcels, shown in the maps of this October 19 round of IDL auctions, the latest scheme of Alta Mesa and bidder accomplices may involve visions of corridors for access, transportation, pipelines, or other infrastructure.  The state is almost giving away 4,404 acres in seven counties as 82 oil and gas leases in Canyon County, 73 in Payette County, 31 in Gem County, 23 in Ada County, 13 in Washington County, two in Bonneville County, and one oil and gas lease in Cassia County.  Remarkably, most of these leases lie along and adjacent to ten state and federal highways in the Treasure Valley – Idaho Highways 16, 19, 44, 52, 55, and 72, U.S. Highways 20, 30, and 95, and Interstate 84 – all threatening blocked public access to private lands [6, enclosed photo]. Continue reading

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


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Idaho Activists Stage ‘Keep It in the Ground’ Protest of BLM Oil & Gas Lease Auction

Thanks to the 25 protesters of the second Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auction of oil and gas leases of public lands and resources in Payette County on Wednesday morning, July 27 [1-5]!  Some journeying hundreds of miles across Idaho, enthusiastic participants from five groups – 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 – met at 8 am MDT near the intersection of West Overland Road and South Vinnell Way in Boise, then held a climate justice rally with signs and banners outside the BLM Idaho State Office.  Along with Payette County residents, many of the involved activists have been objecting to oil and gas development in the Treasure Valley since 2010, and confronting previous state and federal oil and gas lease auctions since April 2013.  The Boise channel 2 television station, KBOI, sent a cameraman/reporter to the five-group protest of the BLM auction; organizers have requested footage of the resulting brief coverage during the July 27 evening news.

This public demonstration joined similar Keep It in the Ground rallies in Lakewood, Colorado, Reno, Nevada, Roswell, New Mexico, and Salt Lake City, Utah, as part of a growing national movement urging President Obama to expand his climate legacy and stop all new oil and gas leases on public lands, as he did with coal leases.  With their peaceful civil disobedience in Boise, concerned Idaho citizens sought to halt the BLM sale of leases on 9,242 acres of Sheep Ridge lands near producing and plugged oil and gas wells around Big Willow Creek, seven miles north of New Plymouth, Idaho [6].  They contributed toward a courageous display of public resistance to Payette County oil and gas invasions, while demanding the end of fossil fuel leases to dangerous extractive industries on federal lands in beautiful Idaho and across the West.

With “soft” cloth signs and banners created to avert the BLM restriction on “hard” protest signs allowed in the building, the protesters were shocked and disappointed to learn during the initial rally that this auction of oil and gas leases of public lands did not welcome the public.  The BLM planned to bar citizens from the bidding process in the Sagebrush Conference Room, and had prepared a separate, monitored room for viewing of livestreamed video coverage of the auction.  So the protesters circled and organized their tactics on the lawn outside the federal building hosting the BLM, other federal land management agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Most of the protesters who entered the BLM office suite presented photo identification and signed in as visitors of the auction and action.  Dozens of them occupied the observation room, while bidders and others arrived in the nearby lobby and signed in to the auction that began at 9 am.  A subversive group of auction opponents unfurled their soft signs saying “Keep It in the Ground” and stood together for photos in front of the closed circuit televisions.  During the 45-minute auction that concluded with the auctioneer’s quip “Thanks for playing,” the protesters watched and took notes, photos, and videos of the BLM auctioning off eight leases for fossil fuel extraction from thousands of acres of public and private lands, for as little as $2 per acre from only two bidders.

Resisting being shunted to a room for protesters with livestreamed auction videos, two activists endured physical and verbal bullying by Idaho BLM personnel and Homeland Security officers, while they persisted in bringing hard protest signs into the building and seeking admission to the auction room.  A particularly aggressive Homeland Security officer initiated close-range shouting matches and roughly pushed on a Boise protester’s body and camera several times, even forcing her backwards through glass doors, and took and folded her protest sign.  One female BLM staff member also yelled at the same participant, before emotionally walking out of the building.  A Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist, insisting on her First Amendment rights to carry a “No Oil and Gas on Public Lands” protest sign into the bidding room, registered at 8:50 am as Bidder 3 to “observe and protest a public proceeding,” and received a bidder ID badge and orange paper paddle.  After a brief huddle among BLM and security personnel, they allowed hard protest signs and cameras into the lobby and video observation room, and returned the Boise protester’s bent sign.  But they continued to physically block Bidder 3’s entrance to the auction until past the start of bidding, citing past, militant, right-wing demonstrations as the basis of their fear and increased security around public actions at federal buildings. Continue reading