The following Op-Ed was submitted by Richard Brown, Owner of Snake River Oil & Gas. Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability is anything but what it calls itself. The radical, democracy-stopping, anti-industry organization that goes by CAIA, works hard to undermine the good work that has been taking place in southwest Idaho. We can no longer allow its fearmongering and false narrative to continue, and must defend our good work and trusted name.
Snake River Oil and Gas applied to the US EPA for a permit to operate a Class II injection well in Payette County. After an exhaustive multi-year application process, the EPA published its notice of intent to issue a permit to Snake River.
CAIA’s so called “press release” attacking Snake River has been distributed to various media outlets, and either reprinted in its entirety or quoted extensively, in both cases with little or no effort to determine its validity. In fact, it contains several false and misleading statements, including:
- “This permit is designated solely for the disposal of waste produced by the drilling and production of dozens of oil and natural gas wells in the Treasure Valley.”.
Truth: In fact, Snake River Oil and Gas has only five wells producing, with two more planned for production soon.
- “Approval of the permit sought by operator Snake River Oil and Gas would exempt the Willow Sands aquifer as an underground source of drinking water. This would facilitate the use of an abandoned hydrocarbon well in Payette County for high-pressure injection of radioactive, chemical-laden, carcinogenic industrial waste deep underground, directly through critical drinking water aquifers.”
Truth: In fact, the formation to which the produced water will be returned already contains hydrocarbons and is unusable as a productive water aquifer, hence the exemption to be granted by EPA. Snake River is simply returning produced water to the same kind of formation where it originated. CAIA’s characterization of the planned operation totally misleads the reader about the process or the permit terms. They fail to mention that the produced water would be injected into the Willow Sands between depths of 4,908 and 5,500 feet below ground, separated from shallow drinking water aquifers by claystone confining intervals. They fail to mention the protective casing and cementing included in the construction of the well, as required by law and the draft permit. They fail to mention the extensive testing and monitoring required to ensure the well’s safe operation. They fail to mention that Snake River is expressly prohibited in the draft permit from injecting at pressures that would create a fracture in any surrounding formation (and in fact is limited to pressures at least 10% below that threshold). You can see the pattern here.
- “Class II injection wells were banned by the state of Idaho in 1985 . . . EPA approved a 2018 rule change that gave the agency primacy over permitting, ostensibly bypassing the State ban and opening the door for this controversial practice.”
Truth: In fact, the Idaho Department of Lands stated before news articles using CAIA’s “press release” were posted that CAIA’s narrative was not accurate. In other words, CAIA knew what it was saying was false. The information was readily available on the Idaho Department of Water Resource’s website, here: https://idwr.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/wells/Class-II-UIC-Program-Fact-Sheet.pdf. In 1985, no oil and gas production even existed in Idaho, so Class II wells were not needed and the state had not developed rules for them. When the need arose with new oil and gas production starting in about 2010, after several years of evaluation the State of Idaho concuded it would be more timely and efficient for EPA to administer the Class II program. EPA did not “bypass” the “State ban”; the State of Idaho requested that EPA administer the Class II program in Idaho.
All of these facts are available on EPA’s website, here: https://www.epa.gov/uic/proposed-aquifer-exemption-and-uic-class-ii-permit-willow-gas-field-idaho. CAIA may have an issue with the oil and gas industry, but its continuous repeat of false and misleading information is a detriment to hard working Idahoans who are doing their part to provide a clean and efficient critical resource, natural gas.
- “While this is our first-Class II application, it won’t be the last,” Brock expressed, noting that Snake River Oil and Gas has drilled three new wells in recent months and that “many more” are planned.
Truth: In fact, these statements have no basis. CAIA has no idea how many oil and gas wells Snake River has planned, and it attempts to give the impression that Snake River will apply for “many more” Class II permits, which is simply false. The single injection well being permitted should serve the area’s needs for the foreseeable future.
Similar claims by CAIA and its representatives in the “news release” have absolutely no factual basis and are simply fearmongering. Throwing around scary words like “poison” doesn’t make anything CAIA says true. It never discusses the actual details of Snake River’s application, or the actual details of the draft permit, because it knows they don’t support its narrative. In fact, allowing Snake River to put produced water back into a hydrocarbon-bearing formation similar to where it originated will allow Snake River to reduce the footprint of its surface operations while producing more royalty income for area mineral owners and tax revenue for the state. Its seems clear that CAIA would like to eliminate all oil and gas production in southwest Idaho, and the false narratives like those in its “news release” are in pursuit of that goal.
We believe in integrity at Snake River Oil and Gas, and we believe that if we are going to put information out to the public, it had better be accurate. We know the good readers of the Idaho Dispatch want real information, not propaganda from a liberal with an agenda.
We urge anyone with questions about the good work taking place in Payette County to please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we agree that good public testimony is vital – we want the public to speak out and let our regulators know that we need natural gas and you support Snake River Oil and Gas in its efforts.
Submit your comments via email to email@example.com no later than 5:00 PM Mountain Time (MT) on February 28, 2022, and please include
- The statement “Draft Permit Public Comment” or “Draft Aquifer Exemption Public Comment” in the subject line of the email
- Name, address and telephone number
- A concise statement and the relevant facts forming the basis for the comment
The online public hearing to collect oral comments is scheduled for February 18, 2022 at 10:00 AM (MT). To participate in the hearing, go to https://www.epa.gov/uic/underground-injection-control-region-10-ak-id-or-and-wa the morning of the hearing where directions on how to attend will be provided.
Tags: Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability, EPA, Richard Brown, Snake River Oil and Gas