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HB 266: Cloud Seeding – 2021

Summary: HB 266 would expand Idaho's cloud seeding program.

ICL's position: Support

Current Bill Status: Senate Floor

Issue Areas: Fish and Wildlife, Water, Water Quality

Official Legislative Site

Rep. Marc Gibbs (R- Grace) introduced House Bill 266 to expand Idaho’s cloud seeding program. The bill states that water generated through cloud seeding will be administered in accordance with the prior appropriation doctrine, limits liability for participation in certain cloud seeding projects, and no state or local permits will be required for cloud seeding. Additionally, the water resource board will be responsible for authorizing cloud seeding in Idaho and may participate in cloud seeding programs.

Cloud seeding is a weather-modification process that aids in the formation of ice crystals and creates snow by releasing silver iodide particles into clouds by ground-based generators or aircraft. Idaho’s original cloud seeding program began in 2003 to increase snow accumulation in the South and Middle Forks of the Payette River watershed and expanded into the upper Snake River system in 2008.

HB 266 would allow state funds to be used only in the basins where the water resource board finds existing water supplies are not sufficient to support exiting water rights, water quality, recreation, or fish and wildlife.

While it’s not entirely clear whether cloud seeding is all it’s cracked up to be, we support the intent to ensure adequate snowpack to support Idaho’s rivers through the summer months. We don’t take manipulation of nature lightly, however, the experience in Idaho is that we can contribute to deep snows without negative environmental effects.