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Idaho Rejects Oil Company Request To Exclude Feds

Idaho officials have rejected a Texas company's request to exclude federal lands and potential royalties from what is believed to be a profitable natural gas field in the southwest part of the state.

The Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 in a decision that went against Houston-based oil company Alta Mesa's petition to omit 187 acres of federal land from a 615-acre drilling unit.

The company argued that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's roughly 30 percent interest should be excluded because the agency hasn't made the land in Payette County available for lease within a reasonable time, halting progress.

The federal agency told commissioners that regulations require public comments and an environmental assessment. The federal agency also noted the state stood to gain half of the Bureau of Land Management's royalties.