Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan
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.
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:
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 even to 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 from all over the country.
If you'd like 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.