Idaho lawmakers eye changes to natural gas and oil rules

Mar 2nd, 2017 | By | Category: Manufacturing/Industry
The Idaho Legislature on Monday approved a bill to speed the the state’s oil-and-gas drilling permit process. Shown here in this May 2015 file photo, drilling rigs stand in Odessa, Texas. (Courtney Sacco/Odessa American via AP, File)

Shown here in this May 2015 file photo, drilling rigs stand in Odessa, Texas.
(Courtney Sacco/Odessa American via AP, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A bill intended to make significant changes to how Idaho regulates the state’s developing natural gas and oil industry has been introduced in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

The Idaho Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/2lhsxo5) that Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale introduced the bill Wednesday.

“This is a complete rewrite of the oil and gas code,” she said.

The bill aims to speed up public notice of natural gas and oil production records that under current state law are not available to the public for up to a year.

The bill also changes the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include the governor, director of the Idaho Department of Lands, and two oil and gas experts.

The bill follows complaints from some property owners that they have no way to check on what Texas-based Alta Mesa is producing from wells and whether the company is paying its fair share.

Company spokesman John Foster said he hadn’t seen the bill and couldn’t comment.

Idaho has a long history of oil and gas exploration starting in the early 1900s. Peaks for well permits occurred in the 1920s, 1950s and 1980s. Twenty-five of Idaho’s 44 counties have had oil and gas exploration. But it’s only been in recent years that advances in technology have given geologists three-dimensional views of what’s underground and narrowed search areas.

During that time, Idaho officials have worked to update the state’s oil and gas regulations. Making records public sooner, officials say, could increase oil and gas competition in the state by letting other oil and gas companies see what’s being produced.

Boyle said she has worked with Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Department of Lands Director Tom Schultz, other lawmakers and landowners on the bill.

The bill also proposes metering of wells to measure what’s being produced, requires operators to file monthly reports with the state about production and sales, and allows the Idaho Department of Lands to share information with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Water Resources and the Idaho Geological Survey.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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