Idaho may set up a new board to oversee its nascent oil and natural gas industry, a bid to put more knowledgeable people with fewer conflicts of interest in charge.
The Department of Lands is drafting the proposal for the 2013 Legislature.
Currently, members of the Idaho Land Board, including Gov. Butch Otter, along with the attorney general, secretary of state, controller and public schools superintendent, regulate the industry.
A new board would include five members appointed by the governor, with each familiar with various aspects of the industry – oil and gas drilling, geology and water resources — as well as landowners with and without mineral leases of their own. The idea is to shift regulation from elected officials and put decision-making in the hands of people with deeper knowledge of the issues at stake.
The oil and gas industry, including the Idaho Petroleum Council, is giving a tentative thumbs-up to the proposal, while withholding final judgment, based on what the legislation looks like when it emerges for public consideration. Environmentalists who this year fought changes to laws governing the industry were initially receptive, too, as they claim that the existing system is rife with conflicts.
Oil and gas is a small, relatively new industry in Idaho, where there’s currently no commercial production from deposits discovered largely in the western part of the state. (AP)