Heated meeting over BLM natural gas leases in Payette

PAYETTE, Idaho (KBOI) - The Bureau of Land Management held a meeting Thursday night at the Payette County Courthouse to talk about possible natural gas leases in an area.

It quickly turned heated as those who attended began asking how much tax payers would be getting, and saying the BLM was taking too long.

This meeting was designed for people to ask questions about the process of leasing, and what concerns the public might have.

Joe Morton of Gem County was at the meeting to discuss how much residents in Idaho would be getting from the leases. He worries that other states are getting offered much more money for the same type of land with natural gas under it.

"Why are you going to lease it off for pennies on the dollar like some of this land went for?" said Morton. "The mineral rights went for on our countryside, which were as low as $5 an acre, and they are paying more than that."

BLM is planning to do protective leases. Because there are already gas wells on private land next to land where BLM owns mineral rights, these types of leases are meant to make sure gas isn't taken from wells next door.

Others in the crowd, including geologist David Hawk, complained that the reason the BLM is in this position is because they took too long in the first place.

"Industry has been waiting eight years for the state BLM office to make lease sales available," said Hawk. "When you say it might take a little while, and the little while is a minimum of three years."

It's still too early in the process to know if the leases will even be allowed to be bid on. If it does go through half of the money from the lease including royalties will go to the U.S. Treasury. The other half goes to the state.


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