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Idaho Legislature Passes Oil and Gas Fast Track Bill

Yesterday, the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1339 a law to expedite oil and gas drilling and integration applications by mandating timelines for permit review and public comment periods.  The bill also puts restrictions on who can file objections to drilling and integration decisions. 
 
The Idaho House of Representatives voted Monday 50-19 to approve the legislation.  The Senate previously approved the proposal 31-4.  The bill now heads to Governor Otter’s desk. 
 
Under this new process, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) has 15 days to approve permit applications to drill or treat oil and gas wells.  The Idaho Department of Water Resources has 10 days to recommend stipulations to protect water resources.  The public will have 10 days to comment and provide input to IDL.  “During this same time, IDL must post the application on its website and allow 10 days for public comment.  A member of the public would need to be checking the IDL website daily and respond almost immediately without having seen the recommendations from Water Resources.  This is not meaningful public participation.  This is not adequate” said Julia Page, Board Chair of the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, a group with members who live, work, farm and ranch in areas of western Idaho experiencing oil and gas production.            
 
Citizen’s groups are worried that this legislation takes away their right to appeal oil and gas drilling determinations they don’t agree with.  “The department’s decision can only be appealed by the oil and gas company,” continued Page.  “That means there is no administrative route for a member of the public to follow, even a directly affected mineral owner.  Court will be the only available remedy.” 
 
“This bill was written by industry for the benefit on industry” said Chad Brock, New Plymouth resident.  “There has been a lack of transparency with this bill.  Alta Mesa’s unwillingness to be open and transparent has been a consistent theme from the beginning.  On top of that, our legislators, who were elected to look out for the best interest of their constituents, are being used by industry to do just the opposite.  It’s very disappointing to see” continued Brock.        
 
 
The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC) is a non-profit grassroots organization working to protect Idaho’s unique way of life by empowering citizens to improve the economic well-being of their communities by preserving family farms and ranches; supporting local, sustainable agriculture; developing small businesses and clean energy; and being responsible stewards of Idaho’s water, land, air, and natural resources.

For more information visit: www.IORCinfo.org

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