The Senate has voted 35-0 in favor of SB 1049, legislation to set up a new governor-appointed oil and gas commission; that role currently is filled by the members of the state Land Board, who are the state’s top five elected officials. Under the bill, which now moves to the House side for consideration, the new five-member commission would include one person knowledgeable in gas and oil, one in geology, one in water, one land owner with surface and mineral rights in the area where oil and gas exploration is being conducted, and one land owner without such rights.
Interestingly, Montana’s Board of Oil and Gas Conservation has identical membership requirements, but with two additional members representing the public, and with a requirement that one board member be an attorney.
Idaho has had little oil and gas development until just the last few years, prompting the state’s move to update its regulatory laws, including controversial changes passed last year in which the state limited local counties’ role in regulating the industry. Prior to the Senate’s vote today, Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, told senators, “I just rise to announce I may have a conflict of interest. I have an oil and gas lease.” That disclosure was noted for the record.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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