Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho!

Injection Well MapOn 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 [2].  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 [3].  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, 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 [6].  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 [8].  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 [9].

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

EPA Hearing on First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well 2-18-22

On February 18, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, held a remote, public hearing via teleconference, on a permit application for an underground injection control (UIC) well, the first Class II oil and gas waste injection well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  The public meeting also addressed a draft record of decision for exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW), as requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas of Magnolia, Arkansas.  Most citizens who participated in oral testimony at this Friday morning hearing insisted that the EPA reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.

For excellent sources of relevant facts, concerns, and public input suggestions, listen to this 36-minute hearing, review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website, and see posted, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) articles [1, 2].  Please comment on the injection well application and aquifer exemption before 5 pm MST on Wednesday, March 30, by sending email messages and attachments to Evan Osborne of the EPA at, and specifically requesting a 30-day comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in WIRT alerts and their links.  By March 29, we also encourage you to sign an informal, 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 [3].  Contact Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability or WIRT with questions and for additional information.

Hearing Recording:

[1] Oppose First Idaho Oil and Gas Waste Injection Well! February 17, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho! March 29, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] Petition to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing and Waste Injection Wells in Idaho, September 29, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well!

Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well FlyerProposed Injection Well & Aquifer Exemption

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, issued public notice of a draft permit (ID-2D001-A) for an underground injection control (UIC) well application, authorizing the first Class II oil and gas waste well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  As also requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) of Magnolia, Arkansas, the EPA released a proposed record of decision for exemption of the aquifer surrounding the well from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW) [1-8].

The EPA notified local communities and tribal and state governments that it had opened a 45-day public comment period on this debacle, which concludes on March 30 and offers a public hearing via teleconference on Friday, February 18 [2].  It delivered the public announcement via electronic mail, for publication in the Independent Enterprise and Idaho Statesman, and to officials of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho departments of environmental quality, geological survey, historic preservation, lands, and water resources, the governor’s office, the nearby cities of Fruitland, New Plymouth, and Payette, Shelly Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), and Richard Brown of SROG.

These two EPA actions require public resistance and input via two sets of email comments, a remote public hearing, and any creative actions that arise.  The EPA plans to allow SROG to convert the existing, abandoned, DJS 2-14, hydrocarbon extraction well, located approximately five miles north-northeast of New Plymouth, into a Class II injection well, for dangerous disposal of fluids between depths of 4,900 and 5,500 feet.  In this well, SROG could commingle waste “waters” brought to the surface at its two dozen mostly conventional, oil and gas production wells in the Treasure Valley, with fluids not classified as hazardous waste from its gas plant operations.  Purportedly, “claystone confining intervals” would separate injected fluids from surrounding, shallow, drinking water aquifers.

The EPA also proposes to approve a drinking water aquifer exemption for approximately 269 acres within the injection zone of this Class II well, in the hills east of Little Willow Creek and Road and north of the Payette River and its floodplain, a few miles upstream from their confluence with the Snake River.  The federal agency has determined that this aquifer contained by several faults does not currently, and cannot in the future, serve as a source of drinking water.  However, within the 24 square miles (15,360 acres) surrounding the proposed waste injection well, multiple water wells presently provide potable and irrigation water.  (See the posted, southeast-facing photograph showing the highest-elevation, DJS 2-14 waste well, the closest, illegally acid-fracked, ML Investments 1-11 gas well [9], the lower, ML Investments 2-10 gas well, and the valley-bottom, Little Willow gas gathering facility, and an aerial map depicting the aquifer exemption boundary with yellow lines and existing water wells with light-blue dots [3].)

Regulating Class II injection wells after assuming authority over that program from the state of Idaho several years ago, the EPA cannot issue UIC permits under Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act, if subsurface waste injection endangers underground sources of drinking water.  Accordingly, the EPA and SROG require impacted aquifer exemption to advance these otherwise prohibited, Class II injection well decisions and activities.  The fifth most seismically prone state of Idaho banned inherently risky, oil and gas waste injection wells in 1985.  But against strong public opposition, the EPA approved a 2018 rule change that transferred authority for permitting these wells, as requested by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, from the state to the federal agency, ostensibly overriding the ban and facilitating this controversial practice [6, 8, 10].

Probable Harms from Oil & Gas Waste Wells

In oil and gas producing regions throughout the continent, hazardous oil and gas waste injection wells have caused well-documented, devastating, surface and ground water contamination and induced and increased seismic incidents, including extensive earthquake clusters many miles from these wells that have inflicted property damages, insurance claims, and lawsuits.  As Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) warns, “This method for disposing of oil and gas waste, while notoriously hazardous, presents an even greater risk when promoted through the use of ‘legacy’ wells.  Steel and cement casings have a long history of failing over time, allowing toxic fluids to migrate into drinking water aquifers and to the surface, where they can poison streams, rivers, irrigation systems, and critical wildlife habitat” [8].  Federal laws two decades ago exempted many oil field operations and wastes, such as drilling fluids, produced water, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluids, from the environmental and hazardous waste regulations that govern other businesses.  Moreover, the historically understaffed and often politically repressed EPA lacks capacities to adequately inspect, document, and enforce oil and gas operation violations [11]. Continue reading

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 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 ( at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and blind-copy your input to CAIA (, 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.


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