The rules, which are used to regulate the nascent oil and gas industry, were panned by industry, environmentalists and homeowners before the voice vote. They could still go into effect if the Senate approves them.
The Department of Lands held seven negotiating sessions from May through July in 2016 before they were approved by the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in August. But people from all sides, including Kate Haas, representing Alta Mesa, the only company producing oil and gas in the state, said they were not happy with the changes Lands made up to the last minute after the public was involved.
”I believe we made a special effort to keep the public involved,” said Eric Wilson, who heads the Department of Lands oil and gas program
C.J. McDonald of Lonetree Petroleum said he planned to drill 25 wells in Idaho but has had investors pull out because of the lack of transparency, consistency and certainty in the permitting process.
“I have investors re-evaluating how many of those wells will be in Idaho,” McDonald said.
Jim Classen, an exploratory geologist and a member of the oil and gas commission, said the rules’ default spacing for natural gas wells of 640 acres along section lines was too big, recommending 160 or 320 acres around the drill site.
Several speakers called for requiring a larger setback than the 300 feet the rules set for oil and gas operations from homes and businesses.
Republican Rep. Judy Boyle, of Midvale, who made the motion to vote down the rules said she had gotten many complaints from residents in her district opposing them. In particular, she criticized the rules for not requiring the same reporting standards the state set for its own mineral leases.
“What’s good for the state is good for the regular mineral owner,” Boyle said.