Idaho Activists Cheer Court Ruling Blocking Forced Oil and Gas Leases Against Homeowners' Wishes 

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND
  • Adam Rosenlund
A grassroots group of Idaho homeowners scored a major victory Aug. 13 when U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a summary judgement which, in effect, will vacate leases that would have previously allowed an oil and gas exploration company to drill at hundreds of sites in Payette County. In his order, Winmill found that the homeowners didn't receive due process in contesting so-called "forced pooling," which compells homeowners to be "deemed leased" even if they had no desire to lease their land for oil and gas exploration.

The lawsuit was launched by Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), an all-volunteer group of homeowners who recently had some success in working with the Eagle City Council in crafting an oil and gas ordinance, putting exploration companies on a short leash if they had any desire to drill in Eagle.

"Every Idaho landowner should be worried that an outside oil company can come here, drill your land, take your oil or gas while exposing your family and greatest lifetime investment to tremendous risk and pay you a pittance for doing so," said CAIA board president Shelley Brock in a prepared statement.

Monday's ruling gives the Idaho Department of Lands, and Oil and Gas Conservation 30 days to decide whether to appeal. 

"We plan to ask the Department of Lands and the [Idaho] Legislature to adopt new laws that will protect private property before any more oil and gas leases are forced on Idahoans," said James Piotrowski, attorney with the Boise-based Herzfeld & Piotrowski who represented the homeowners.

You can read the full ruling below:
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