FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 26, 2011
Contact: Leigh Fifelski, 517-999-3646

LANSING – Citizens groups today said new permit requirements affecting the removal of natural gas from Michigan deposits is not enough to address growing public concerns over the impact of the controversial process on public health and its impact on Michigan’s Great Lakes and other freshwater resources.

The groups, Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club, have called for a delay in all hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of natural gas until strong regulations are in place, including implementing public accountability measures and requiring companies to fully disclose all chemicals used.

The new Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit changes were revealed overnight by The Associated Press and require companies to use a computer modeling tool and make some – but not all – disclosures of chemicals and water impact.

“These half-measures fall far short of what we need to do to protect Michigan families, citizens and local businesses from the very real dangers of fracking,” said Clean Water Action’s Susan Harley. “The best way to protect public health and our natural resources is to delay any fracking until we have strong safeguards in place, and those safeguards must include public participation and total disclosure of all chemicals pumped into our ground. These permit instructions are a small step forward, and we look forward to working with all parties to develop and implement real safety and accountability safeguards when it comes to natural gas drilling and extraction.”

“The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality should listen to the people, not the oil and gas industry, whose No. 1 motivation is profit even if it puts people’s health and our quality of life at risk,” said Sierra Club’s Rita Chapman. “These superficial permit requirements do not fully address the real concerns people have with fracking, and that’s what chemicals are going into our earth that affect our drinking water and when the public will get to have a say in these permit decisions. . Michigan citizens deserve answers to these questions.” The groups had called for a delay in natural gas drilling through fracking until strong safety and public accountability measures are in place, including:

  • Gas companies must follow all state laws regarding water withdrawals – something they are currently exempt from.
  • Gas companies must disclose up front all chemicals used in the drilling process.
  • Strong water quality management practices must be in place.
  • The permitting process must include a full public participation process, which currently doesn’t exist.
  • All wells, pipelines, equipment, seismic activity and radioactive traces in water must be regularly inspected and monitored.
  • Air pollution controls must be implemented, including requiring use of idling limits, clean diesels, electric and alternative fueled vehicles, and controlling flares and venting of methane. 
  • Require a study of total cumulative impacts of natural gas operations in the state, including on water withdrawals, spills, contamination, methane and other gas emissions, and other impacts.

Gas companies are now targeting deposits in deeper formations of up to 10,000 feet that require more chemicals and 100 times more water than previous methods for fracking. The MDEQ’s new permit instructions only ask companies for some, but not full, data on water quantity and chemicals used, and lacks a public accountability process.


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