Environmental Group Critiques Bill In Idaho Legislature On Gas Production

Feb 23, 2016

A group that’s critical of a bill making its way through the Idaho legislature rallied on the steps of the Idaho statehouse Monday. Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability organized the gathering in response to a Senate committee vote in favor of a bill to speed up oil and gas production. The bill would shorten the time for appeals to new energy applications.

Alma Hasse helped organize the rally. Hasse says the bill could make it harder for Idaho homeowners to keep – or even sell – their home. Hasse says an elderly couple in Fruitland is already facing that issue.

“They were lied to when they signed their lease and were told it wouldn’t have any impact on their ability to do anything with their home," says Hasse. "And now they’re having great difficulty finding a lender who will lend for a potential buyer on their home.”

She says gas companies don’t need to tell property owners who decide to lease their land for energy use that this could put them in violation of their mortgage agreement, or make their property less attractive for a future mortgage lender. Hasse says the bill could make it harder for people who own land – but who don’t own the mineral rights on that land – to control what happens on their property.

Hasse also cautions against polluting and depleting Idaho’s water supply. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is the process used to get gas trapped under the earth, and is water-intensive.

“That really concerns me because we’re an ag state and our irrigation water is the lifeblood of our agriculture. And if it starts being sold to the highest bidder, we’re going to have farm ground going fallow and we’re going to have farmers going out of business.”

She says the group is trying to stop the bill from advancing beyond the Senate.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio