Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012, 10:05 A.M.

Senate debating oil/gas bill…

The Idaho Senate has begun its debate on HB 464, the oil/gas pre-emption bill, which has bounced from the full Senate to the amending order - on a tied vote broken by Lt. Gov. Brad Little - and then back to the full Senate without being amended, when two senators switched sides. Those backing amending the bill wanted to ensure more local input in siting decisions on new wells; the bill would give all such decisions to the state Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. This morning, Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, told the Senate, "Landowners have the right to have the resources under their property responsibly developed."

Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said, "I do think that subsequent legislatures are going to have to continue to work on this legislation. But I have learned over the years that sometimes in this process we don't get to vote for perfect bills. I number this one among those. But that doesn't mean for me at least some incremental progress in the area isn't valuable."

Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, said, "We still could have done a little bit better, and certainly looking at a few options in the amending order would not have hurt." But he said he's going to support the bill.

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, spoke against the bill. "You want to strike a balance between enabling the industry to do what they need to do in developing the resource, and promoting the health, safety and the welfare of the state," he said. "The public interest section does not require the Oil and Gas Commission promote the health, safety and welfare of the public - that's left out."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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