Third Idaho Oil & Gas Lease Auction Protest


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


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

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,, 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, 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 <>, Clifford Bayer <>, Marv Hagedorn <>, Lee Heider <>, Roy Lacey <>, Sherry Nuxoll <>, Jeff Siddoway <>, Michelle Stennett <>, Steve Vick <>.

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.