Idaho's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission wants to make the process of reviewing and issuing permits for the growing industry of gas exploration more formal. As a result, the commission has approved a new so-called "decision unit," to be effective at the beginning of the 2013 Fiscal Year, next July.
Funding for the program decision unit would top $128,000 and would need final approval from the Idaho Legislature in next year's budget negotiations.
Natural gas exploration has come to the forefront in western Idaho since Bridge Resources began drilling in Payette County with some success. Bridge found success at seven of 11 wells. On Oct. 5, BW reported that Bridge was in trouble financially, in the wake of its top executives resigning and its stock trading at 2 cents to 3 cents per share on the Toronto Stock Exchange. But other gas exploration companies, including Snake River Oil and Gas (a subsidiary of Weiser-Brown Oil Company) have indicated that they intend to explore and drill in the Idaho basin as soon as next year.
The oil and gas commission, comprised of Idaho's statewide elected officials and chaired by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, voted to approve the budget item by a unanimous vote. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Controller Donna Jones were present, but Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna was absent.
"Is Luna not going to be here? Who's turn was it to watch him?" joked Otter.
After a quick vote and adjournment, Luna walked into the room.