Educate Yourselves about Oil and Gas

Tina Fisher, New Plymouth

The Argus Observer 6/20/13

Currently, our Payette County Commissioners are considering a draft oil and gas ordinance.  On Monday, June 24, at 11 am, they will be making a decision on this draft ordinance.  Here are some facts that every resident of Payette County should be aware of and that our Commissioners should be taking into consideration as they debate the merits of this ordinance.

Industry’s own documents show that approximately six percent of all new wells leak immediately and that eventually most, if not all of them, will leak!  I choose to live in New Plymouth because of the quality of my drinking water, clean air, and enjoyable rural lifestyle.  Drilling of gas wells carries with it all of the toxins and pollutants required to “frack” or “chemically stimulate” these wells: many, such as benzene, are cancer-causing.  The produced or flowback water is not only toxic but can be radioactive as well!

These poisons can get into our groundwater – yours, too.  They enter the corn and hay that farmers grow and feed to chickens, cows, pigs, etc.  The eggs you cook for breakfast and the burgers you grill for your family can make you sick.  Ask yourself, “What does rich mean to me?”  If it means healthy bodies, abundant wildlife, beautiful vistas, clean, sweet-smelling air and water, then heed my warning and move to protect your riches.  It’s time to wake up.

Priority Should Be to Protect Health

Pattie Young, New Plymouth

The Argus Observer 6/20/13

Following the progression of oil and gas coming into our state, the main focus has been on monetary gains and fear of monetary losses in lawsuits from reasonable limitations for the safety of residents.

The Texas fertilizer accident originated in a location where there was little development or population at the time.  Development moved in afterwards, making vulnerable choices.  Here we have an industry with known accident and contaminant possibilities setting down in the middle of us.

In the hurry for possible business gains, we are allowing an industry with obvious hazardous elements and activities associated with it to move in prior to necessary safeguards and procedures to be planned or in place.  Lifting the previous ban on injection wells without adequate regulations and oversight is also a new risk element. Continue reading

U.S. Highway 95 DEIS Misinformation

Lahde Forbes, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/21/13

At the Idaho Transportation Department Hearing on January 23, I talked with Tim Long, district right of way supervisor, and Carmen Reese, senior right of way agent. We looked at which eight businesses would be displaced on alternative C-3. They informed me in fact no businesses will be displaced, and the widening of current U.S. Highway 95 would have no effect beyond a potential noise increase.

I was surprised ITD had the displacement of eight businesses as one of its main four reasons for not choosing C-3 as its preferred alternative since this information is inaccurate. Long wanted me to stress in my comment letter that “there will be no definitive displacement of businesses (on C-3) and that this is misleading to the public.” I expect to see this information corrected in the subsequent IDT hearing information boards and in the DEIS/FEIS. Continue reading

Consider All the Facts

Joann Muneta, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/20/13

It is not true all of those objecting to the proposed E-2 alignment for U.S. Highway 95 to go over the western shoulder of Paradise Ridge are residents of that area. People from throughout the city and county are writing letters and signing petitions to the Idaho Transportation Department asking that the central alignment (C-3) be chosen. I myself live near East City Park, yet I want to preserve and protect the Paradise Ridge area that is one of our area’s significant and treasured natural landmarks.

A highway is forever. Once paved, we cannot reclaim the Palouse Prairie or any other part of this area. Therefore it is important all the facts be carefully considered. Why choose E-2? It is only .09 mile shorter. The ITD safety data are not thorough enough to conclude any one alternative is safer than another. Continue reading

C-3 is Safest Route for U.S. Highway 95

John Crock, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/19/13

After speaking with an Idaho Transportation Department representative at the recent Highway 95 re-alignment forum, he admitted the safety numbers for the E-2 alternative are underestimates of the big picture, which in the E-2 option, old 95 still exists. People, including residents on that stretch, would still drive old 95. Accidents would occur and people would die on that old stretch. Of course, the traffic would be greatly less, so maybe accidents would only occur at one-tenth the current rate, but when you add in those numbers to the projected accident rate on E-2, E-2 is the most dangerous alternative.

C-3 obliterates the old 95 roadway, so there are no additional accidents and is thus safer in the big picture. In addition, ITD models E-2 as being safer than C-3 because there are no businesses on it since it hasn’t been built. As soon as there is high traffic flow on E-2, savvy business or property owners will develop the adjacent land, and it will soon be as congested as old 95 is today, meaning the lower accident projections will be short-lived. Continue reading

Another View on U.S. Highway 95

Victoria Seever, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/30/13

On January 21, I got a tour of Highway 95’s other alignment options, the central and west routes. This is not an easy call. Whichever route, it is essential all ecological mitigations are thoroughly taken and maintained. Social and economic issues remain a huge consideration for individual rights and land use. It’s not as simple as buying out someone who just plops down somewhere else equitably located and available.

It was especially helpful to see the road course for the central route and where it is in relation to the east route.

Hearing firsthand the challenges that occur when a highway cuts through a producing field, like farming equipment accessing those fields, and a firsthand history of land use and conservation on it offers valuable insight. Continue reading

Reflections on ITD U.S. Highway 95 Realignment Hearing

Mary Ullrich, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/25/13

In reflecting on testimony at Wednesday’s Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) hearing in Moscow, I would like to say a few things.  First, I do need to express great compassion for all those who stand to be affected adversely.  I sincerely hope that you will be compensated fairly and well by ITD.

For those who told stories of accidents and dangers on Reisenauer Hill, I hope that section of the highway will be redone to state and federal standards. This would be accomplished by going with Alignment C-3. Keep in mind if E-2 is built, the current highway will remain as it is (only as a county road) and many, especially local people, will be using that old highway.

For those who pleaded that ITD lower speed limits, add some center-line “rumble strips” and some carefully placed signage, I hope ITD will hear this loud and clear and take immediate action.

Let’s work together to make this happen now.

A Win-Win Option

Keith G. Haley, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/24/13

A few important thoughts on the U.S. Highway 95 relocation.

The realignment of 95 south of Moscow will be permanent.

It is important we get it right. I feel certain the C-3 alternative route is absolutely the best choice.

My first reason is highway elevation. Anybody who has lived on the Palouse for more than a summer knows the hill to the north of Moscow, Steakhouse Hill, and to the south, Reisenauer Hill, are the winter danger spots. Black ice, blowing snow and unpredictable weather issues begin in November each year and can last until late spring. Continue reading

Don’t Blame Paradise Ridge Defenders

Kas Dumroese, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News

With all due respect to Wayne Olson and Shelley Bennett, their angst is misdirected. The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition welcomes a new U.S. Highway 95, just not by Paradise Ridge. PRDC members (hunters, farmers, foresters, small business owners, environmentalists, etc.) are concerned about safety and passionate about quality of life issues. My teenager commuted on U.S. 95, too.

We still drive on old U.S. 95 because ITD ignored law. With that mistake, ITD could have selected from many potential routes meeting project objectives without requiring the extensive time and money of a draft environmental impact statement, but instead pursued the route flanking Paradise Ridge (E2) that did. Although we could have been driving on a new route years ago, stubbornly, perhaps out of wounded professional pride, ITD pushes the version they admit is the noisiest and has the most negative effect on wildlife, Palouse Prairie and access by rural residents and emergency responders. ITD’s conclusion E2 will be safest is disingenuous – it does so by forcing nearly everyone who lives south of Moscow and north of Thorncreek Road off the new interstate and restricting them to commute on the existing, dangerous route. First responders to Hidden Village, for example, will still travel the old route. Continue reading

C-3 Is Superior Reroute for U.S. Highway 95

Al Poplawski

Al Poplawski

Al Poplawski, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/22/13

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition appreciates the opportunity to respond to several letters to the editor during the last week that made erroneous statements regarding PRDC and the Idaho Transportation Department’s U.S. Highway 95 re-alignment project. Hopefully we can clear up many of these misunderstandings.

In the following discussion we have done our best to provide a factual summary of the draft environmental impact statement.

We share Wayne Olson’s concern for safety. However, we don’t accept responsibility for accidents on the highway. PRDC forced ITD to follow the law that required that they create an EIS. The responsibility is with the laws of our land. We only encouraged following the law. The EIS must consider all factors, propose a wide range of alternatives and select the alternative that best satisfies the “purpose and need” of the project – while observing all laws and regulations. The purpose for this project requires improvement of safety, efficiency and handling of traffic volume. It may take a little longer, but if this process is done well we should get a safe highway. A DEIS usually takes an agency a year or two to perform. It is not our responsibility that ITD took so many years to perform this analysis. Continue reading