WEISER -- There is more interest in natural gas deposits lying underneath Payette County. An Arkansas gas company has shown interested in the West Idaho Basin recently and it could be just a matter of months before they start drilling.
The latest movement in an attempt to start drilling was Wednesday night at two town hall community meetings first in Weiser and then later that evening in Payette.
Some of those who attended spoke against the drilling of natural gas because they fear the negative impact the operations could have on the environment. There were also residents who said this new venture will create jobs and economic growth.
Midvale farmer Jim Williams stood up at Wednesday s meeting to speak in support of natural gas mining.
We have got to use our resources, we have got the jobs here at home, he proclaimed in front of a packed room at the Vendome in Weiser.
He like some others who filled that room believes the natural gas operations could also provide jobs.
It s a pretty high end pay scale industry and it s exciting, said Richard Brown.
Brown is with Snake River Oil and Gas, the Arkansas exploration firm that also wants a piece of Idaho s natural riches.
I think in Idaho water is a big issue and so I think one of the misconceptions is we are going to harm the water, said Brown
Colorado based, Bridge Resources already drilled 11 gas wells in Payette County, 7 of which can successfully produce gas. A proposed natural gas collection and dehydration plant is also in the works.
It was Payette County s own district 9 legislators who called for the meeting Wednesday night to try and clear some misconceptions.
We all live here and we don t want our environment or our water spoiled but we think there is a lot of fear out there and we just want some of those questions answered, said Lawerence Denney, Idaho s Speaker of the House.
It was also clear at Wednesday s Town Hall meeting that not all are convinced a natural gas operation is the best option for Idaho.
Pattie Young was vocal at the meeting. She shouted out to speakers in front of the crowded room.
My main concern was that it was being put too close to the town it was being put in an area that it shouldn t belong, Young said.
Young said she started to get involved in the discussion early in the process when Bridge Resources started to lease land for their wells.
She believes the people of Payette County are being lied to.
It s not just about the money it s the things that are happening the cover up that is happening the environmental destruction that is happening it s just incredible, said Young.
Snake River Oil and Gas out of Arkansas said they don t use the traditional fracking method which blasts chemically treated water into the earth to get the natural gas out. Instead Brown said his company performs well treatment or well encouragement, it's considered to be a less abrasive way of drilling.
Thursday, the EPA released a draft report that detected groundwater pollution connected with a hydro fracking operation going on now in Wyoming. Many in the oil and gas industry say the announcement is premature