In response to what it says is the certain prospect of "fracking"--the controversial process of shooting high-pressured liquids and solids into the earth's core to enhance gas flows--in Idaho, the environmental activist group Wild Idaho Rising Tide is launching what it calls a "frack attack" of its own.
WIRT members will take their concerns to Boise's North Sixth Street Friday, June 7, when they'll protest outside the offices of the Idaho Department of Lands--one in a series of statewide demonstrations outside IDL offices slated for June 3-9.
"It's a way to show our state government that plenty of citizens aren't pleased with how state lands could potentially be used, and also how our state water would be impacted by this drilling," WIRT spokeswoman Helen Yost told Boise Weekly.
But IDL officials insist that its most recent gas drilling permit, from Texas-based Alta Mesa Services, includes "no plans outlined for hydraulic fracturing." Alta Mesa's drilling plans target several private and public land parcels in Payette County.
IDL does concede that approximately half of the currently completed wells in Idaho will need what it calls "a small frac[k] job," requiring thousands of gallons of pressurized water.
"This IDL statement represents written proof that Idaho is about to be fracked in a similar, although smaller, way as the places most poisoned by this risky extraction method," countered WIRT's Yost.
The IDL said that newly adopted Idaho rules "require modern drilling practices and well integrity tests," and that fracking "does not induce earthquakes that can be felt on the surface."
Yost said the IDL should be reminded that fracking "would explode subsurface rocks in a state with the fifth-most seismic activity." In particular, she said,Payette County sandstone reservoirs are "not tight," thus making the sands "more porous and vulnerable to methane and drilling chemical migration."
"Idahoans are not well-versed in oil and gas drilling," said Yost. "On some level, we feel like we're being taken advantage of by the industry because our state officials seem uninformed about the consequences."
Which is why her group will have a presence in the coming days outside of IDL offices in Coeur d'Alene, Deary, Idaho Falls, Kamiah, Orofino, Priest Lake, St. Maries and Sandpoint, in addition to the June 7 Boise protest.