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The  Idaho Legislature’s changes to the state’s ballot initiative process will make it harder to change laws from the grassroots up has stymied efforts to launch a statewide hydraulic fracturing and waste injection ballot initiative.

This year Gem State lawmakers passed SB 1108, making it more difficult to gather enough signatures to push successful petition campaigns.

Currently, petitioners are required to collect six percent of registered voters’ signatures statewide. Under the new law, taking effect July 1, petitioners must collect six percent of registered voters’ signatures from a minimum of 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Last year, Idaho  set the stage for oil and gas development with sweeping new laws. The industry has been testing  and drilling is expected to commence this year.

Alta Mesa filed for a drilling permit in April and the company plans to drill a natural gas well in an extensive wetlands and flood plain confluence of the Payette River and Big Willow Creek a few miles upriver from Fruitland.

This area is also inside the Payette River Wildlife Management Area and Lenni-Lenape tribe’s traditional lands.

AMS could start site preparation as early as May 25, although comments on what could become the first fracked well in Idaho aren’t due until May 30 to the Idaho Department of Lands. Comments can be submitted to comments@idl.idaho.gov.

On Bureau of Land Management-administered land an additional 7,356 acres are leased on the Bear Lake Plateau and near Grey’s Lake, although no drilling has yet taken place, said Spokeswoman Heather Feeney.

“We had hoped to launch a statewide fracking/waste injection well ban, or at least a moratorium, before new measure laws requiring voter signature distributions by district take effect on July 1,” said Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide. “Despite multiple requests and meetings we could not find legal assistance or build a statewide coalition around this issue.”

Yost said WIRT, along with allies like Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), may attempt a ballot initiative in 2015, following a series of statewide demonstrations and raising public awareness.

“One of the issues is that not many Idahoans are even aware or familiar with what fracking is,” Yost said.

WIRT is planning action around Stop the Frack Attack’s Week of Action from June 3-9. 

Post by Blair Koch

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