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Idaho Senators Voice Concern Over Natural Gas Bill That Threatens Local Control

Feb. 29, 2012 | Boise State Public Radio/Idaho Public Television
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Aaron Kunz

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  • This is where Bridge Resources plans to drill for natural gas in Payette County. Snake River Oil and Gas also plans to do business here but both need the state to approve regulations before they are willing to start spending money. credit: Aaorn Kunz
This is where Bridge Resources plans to drill for natural gas in Payette County. Snake River Oil and Gas also plans to do business here but both need the state to approve regulations before they are willing to start spending money. | credit: Aaorn Kunz | rollover image for more

BOISE, Idaho —Some Idaho legislators are concerned about a bill that reduces county control over the oil and gas industry.

The Senate Resources and Environment Committee grilled industry leaders and stakeholders Wednesday over legislation that gives the state control to regulate the natural gas industry.

The Idaho Association of Counties, an organization that represents Idaho’s 44 counties, signed off on the bill. Spokeswoman Kerry Ellen Elliott told lawmakers they felt pressured to support it.

Kerry Ellen Elliott: “We wanted 90 or 95% of something instead of 100% of nothing and I really think that the locals are much better served with what we’ve got in here than they would be served with a preemptive decision at the state level.”

But Sen. John Tippets questioned the association’s decision - asking if it truly represents local government. Some counties like Payette support this bill because it jump-starts a new industry. But next door in Washington County, commissioners say the bill voids the local regulations they passed last month to govern the natural gas industry. By signing off on this legislation, Tippets says it sends a message that someone other than the Legislature is making laws.

This is one of six bills needed to overhaul the state’s oil and gas regulations. The industry is waiting to see if the Legislature passes these rules before they begin the process to extract natural gas from the ground.

The committee meets again Friday. Chairman Monte Pearce says the committee will work through the day until all the bills are voted on.

© 2012 Boise State Public Radio/Idaho Public Television
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