Date : 11-09-08 23:11
Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan
 Author : 07 (141.♡.211.23)
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Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan

Sierra Club and Clean Water Action call for a Delay Before Fracking

On Tuesday, May 17, 2011, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Michigan Clean Water Action, along with several affected and concerned citizens, called for a delay on all hydrofracking in the state until a new set of safeguards are in place.  The details can be found here.

The two groups called for several important measures to be taken before new natural gas drilling can resume, including the following:

•  Protect Michigan’s water supply by eliminating a special interest exemption from state water use laws so natural gas companies are treated the same as all other large water users in Michigan.  Standards for fracking must be adopted that ensure there are no adverse impacts on our water resources as a result of water withdrawals.

•    Protect water quality by requiring public disclosure of specific fracking chemicals used by natural gas companies when they apply for a permit to extract.  The public’s right to know what is in our water outweighs any corporate claims of confidentiality involving the use of chemicals.  The Administration and Legislature must regulate fracking operations to ensure they are safe, including proper disposal of chemical waste and other byproducts of fracking.

•    Requiring public participation in the permitting process so all of the facts are known before a permit is issued and all stakeholders—including people who own wells, fish in streams and use drinking water—have the right to have input, and to be heard.

A new gas rush is taking place in the Great Lakes State. 

The huge potential for natural gas reserves embedded in Collingwood and Utica shale led to a record-setting state lease sale in the northern Lower Peninsula last spring of 2010.  The technique for extracting this gas is called hydraulic fracturing, or Hydrofracking.  Millions of gallons of water and thousands of gallons of chemicals are high-pressure injected deep underground into fissures in shale rock, to widen the fissures sufficiently to extract the gas.  While this general technique has been used for many years in Michigan Antrim shale drilling, its use in the Collingwood/Utica deposits introduces new concerns:

•    The deposits are as deep as 9500 feet, compared to 1000-2000 feet for the Antrim shale, and they will involve horizontal drilling.
•    The deep drilling requires much more water (millions of gallons), and the process is exempt from Michigan's water withdrawal laws, and the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
•    The drilling companies consider the chemical additives proprietary and are not required to make them public.
•    Wastewater that flows back includes these chemicals, plus naturally occurring dissolved chemicals including hydrocarbons and heavy metals.  These are disposed of in deep injection wells and since they're designated as oil and gas waste, they have less protective requirements, and the wells are exempt from local zoning.
•    Incidents of surface and groundwater contamination have been reported in other states, including Pennsylvania, New York, and Colorado.

At the Federal Level

Last spring the EPA announced that under direction from Congress it was undertaking a new life-cycle analysis of the impact of hydraulic fracturing, expected to be completed in 2012.  The state of New York has called a moratorium on new permits until the study is completed.  Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to rescind the exemption from Safe Drinking Water Act regulation and to require disclosure of the chemicals (but not the proprietary formulas) used in the process.  Industry spokesmen have asked that no action be taken on these bills until the EPA report is completed.  Stay tuned.

The national Sierra Club has set up a webpage to track different states' efforts to regulate (or potentially deregulate) the process of hydrofracking.  The Club's Action Network likewise has a Hydrofracking Team set up to help Sierra Club members and others from around the country to connect and learn more and organize.  On that page, you'll find out what needs to be done and how to help out.  Right in the middle of that page, you'll see an orange button that says "Join Our Listserv", a sure way to keep up with the latest news on fracking from all over the country.

Other local sources of information include Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and ProPublica, or you can click here for our Hydrofracking Presentations, Events and Resources.

To learn more about what the Michigan Chapter is doing about hydrofracking here in Michigan, please contact Rita Chapman by email or at 517-484-2372.

May 17, 2011 Press Release
Sierra Club & Clean Water Action Call for Delay Before Fracking in Michigan

Hydrofracking Policy Details

Contact Governor Rick Snyder today!

Hydrofracking Resources
including Hydrofracking Policy, links to helpful websites, news & information


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