States First Releases First SOGRE Peer Assessment

State regulators release assessment of Idaho’s oil and gas regulatory program

Boise, Idaho – The State Oil and Gas Regulatory Exchange (SOGRE), an innovative regulatory improvement program created under the States First Initiative by two state-based organizations, finds Idaho’s oil and gas regulatory structure to be mostly in line with the regulatory practices of other oil and gas producing states, and provides guidance for Idaho as its regulation of oil and gas exploration, drilling and production continues to evolve.

Team members of this SOGRE assessment presented its final assessment report of Idaho’s oil and gas statutory authorities and implementing regulations during a joint meeting of the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee and Idaho House Resources and Conservation Committee on February 15, 2017. SOGRE team members then presented the report to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission the following day. 

“The SOGRE Team…did not identify material substantive gaps in the implementing regulations,” stated the report.

This SOGRE assessment team is comprised of top state oil and gas regulators that have more than 140 years of combined oil and gas experience. The team provides expertise in distinct oil and gas related subject matters.

“The SOGRE peer assessment offers state oil and gas agencies a unique opportunity to engage with technical, legal, and regulatory experts from across the country,” said Matt Lepore, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the lead for the IDL peer assessment. “By requesting a comprehensive assessment from SOGRE, Idaho is proving their commitment to the continuous improvement of effective regulatory programs for the health and safety of Idahoans and the environmental protection of the State.”

The IDL requested the comprehensive SOGRE assessment in early 2016 to evaluate Idaho’s overall regulatory framework, compare existing programs and processes to similar states, clarify rules and definitions, acknowledge current oil and gas technology, and identify any potential issues for consideration.

The peer assessment report provides guidance to a number of specific of regulatory and administrative issues that IDL identified in its request to SOGRE. The assessment team also addressed other issues for IDL’s consideration as its rules and procedures continue to develop.

The report’s findings include:
• Existing Idaho statute provides the authority needed to effectively regulate oil and gas exploration and production in Idaho, and there are no substantive gaps in existing administrative rule.
• The State’s current approach to well spacing is appropriate at this stage of development. Idaho has the necessary tools in place to adjust spacing as needed.
• Idaho may wish to consider pursuing permitting primacy for Class II Underground Injection Control (UIC) from the Environmental Protection Agency.
• Contractors, performance metrics, and staff with appropriate expertise should be put in place to make the most of program resources.
• Idaho’s 15-day requirement for Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) approval or denial of drill permit applications could pose challenges. Some states require a “timely and efficient” permitting process without firm timelines.
• Twelve specific considerations for program improvement were identified, with topics ranging from horizontal well standards, Class II UIC wells, electronic forms and databases, increasing blanket bond requirements, and recycling of produced water.

“We appreciate our colleagues and thank them for their comprehensive assessment and thoughtful recommendations on Idaho’s oil and gas regulatory structure,” IDL Director Tom Schultz said. “Their review provides reassurance that Idaho is on the right track in many areas of oil and gas regulation, and it gives us a launching point for future adjustments as we continue our efforts to encourage oil and gas production while preventing waste of resources and protecting water and rights of mineral owners.”

“Idaho has the fundamental tools and foundation in place to adequately oversee oil and gas operations,” said Carl Michael Smith, executive director of the IOGCC. “Like many other states, Idaho will further develop its regulatory programs and continue to progress as it faces its own challenges and issues.”

SOGRE is a product of a joint venture between the IOGCC and GWPC. The mission of the SOGRE is to assist states to continually improve state oil and gas regulatory programs by providing member states consultation and program assessment services targeted to their specific needs.

“The SOGRE process allows states to access the best-of-the-best in terms of regulatory expertise,” said Mike Paque, executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC). “It is becoming a living laboratory for developing sound oil and gas regulations and recognizing and addressing emerging issues in the oil field.”

To read the full report, please visit StatesFirstInitiative.org or click this link.