Washington County Wants Own Rules for Gas Drilling

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At least one county authority thinks it, and not a state regulator, has its own citizens' best interests in mind when overseeing gas drilling.

Recently, Citydesk reported that a draft of legislation was expected to be floated before the Idaho Legislature in 2012 that would trump local ordinances when considering oil and gas exploration. Though the oil and gas industry readily admits that it helped work on the draft, the legislative sponsor remains confidential until it is presented in 2012. One particular passage of the draft is getting a fair amount of attention from the state's municipalities:

"No city, county or other political subdivision of this state shall enact or adopt any ordinance, rule, resolution, requirement or standard regulating the siting, construction or operation of facilities used in the exploration for, production or transportation of oil and gas that conflicts, either actually or operationally, with any provision of this chapter of the commission."

But in Washington County, where explorers are eyeing their next potential gas-drilling operations, new rules are being crafted to indemnify its residents.

The Independent Enterprise reports that the proposed ordinance would require drillers to hold insurance policies to cover bodily injury, environmental impairment and protection of any underground reservoir and its resources. The ordinance would also require a $15,000 bond for each well permit to be held in a interest-bearing account.

But at least one state legislator didn't like what he heard.

"The state is in charge of regulating," District 9 Republican Sen. Monty Pearce of New Plymouth told the Enterprise. "The county doesn't have the expertise and shouldn't want the liability."

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