The Idaho Department of Lands held a
private public auction this morning, leasing out mineral rights for state lands in several western Idaho counties, and demonstrators from across the state came out in force to protest against the threat of fracking and oil drilling, which they warned may have dire consequences for communities and the environment.
For Brandie Redinger of the Muse Project, the auction subverted Idaho citizens' right to know how public lands are being used and undercut their say in whether those lands should be used for profit by private industry.
"This will completely override our individual voice about how we use our land. It's an issue of farming or fracking—we can't have both," she said.
Inside the auction, parcels of land between 3 acres and 300 acres in size were being leased off for between $11 and $500 at a rapid pace. Demonstrators had been admitted to the proceedings and they held placards and posters near the back of the room. One of them was Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction Executive Director Alma Hasse.
"Our lands are being given away to the highest bidder, sometimes for not very much money at all," she said.
Hasse worried that little data about the land has been collected, and that the land's proximity to the Boise River could damage the waterway and communities downstream.
"They shouldn't be able to use these lands without the data. We had no say-so—the public had no input," she said.