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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FRACKING IN MICHIGAN


The state owned mineral rights, under both public parks and private residences, are nominated every 6-months to be sold. Oil and Gas extraction companies buy these rights often for only $12 an acre. This is the first step for drilling and fracking operations to happen in and under our parks, homes, and lakes. The last mineral rights auction is October 24th, 2012, the DNR has reduced the price to $10 an acre.
 
1.  Oil and gas companies reap billions in profits and millions in executive compensation without complying with the clean water act while residents bear enormous risks and the state earns a tiny fraction. .    http://www.ngsa.org/Assets/docs/top%2040%202011%202nd%20quarter.pdf  The DNR sells rights under your home and lakes for $12 an acre, energy companies earn $100 a barrel.    Energy CEOs earn $100 MM a year.  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/NOMNOTICE_382057_7.pdf   The supply chain of energy companies engage in arbitrage (trading of these rights) while the state makes a fraction. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-big-fracking-bubble-the-scam-behind-the-gas-boom-20120301  . http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/how-shale-tilts-the-scale.aspx These companies can take up to 5 million gallons of water per drill for free, in other states they have to pay to truck water, MI incentivizes them to pollute here. http://www.danolt.com/pa/costanalysis.html
2.  Oil and gas companies will use their gargantuan profits for advertising, PR and lobbying.  It is very difficult for objective sources such as universities (Duke, Cornell and the EPA) to complete research BECAUSE THE INDUSTRY DOESN'T NEED TO DISCLOSE THE DANGEROUS CHEMICALS THEY USE.  Some objective research (not funded by big oil):  http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/dukenvironment/f11/in-the-midst-of-a-fracking-firestorm , http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2012/05/31/cornell-university-professor-at-odds-with-pa-dep-over-regulation/
3.  Residents bear the risk and damage of a) polluted drinking and recreation water, b) storage of  millions of gallons of toxic wastewater (aka produced water), c) transport of polluted water and other contaminants, d) destruction of the beautiful environment (roads, noise, drills, waste pools. http://www.friendsofthejordan.org/  http://catskillcitizens.org/learnmore/Shonkoff.pdf
4.  Why is the state complicit in selling mineral rights for pennies on the dollar?  Are they being funded by big oil and gas?
6.  Remediation efforts and expenditures by energy companies are feeble, ask the residents of the Gulf and Kalamazoo.  How can BP and Enbridge still earn record profits and executive compensation?  http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3313_56784-251978--,00.html

What can ordinary citizens in Michigan do?
Contact the state DNR to comment on the auction:  contact Debbie Whipple at 517-373-2352 or whippled1@michigan.gov
Attend the October 24 auction and purchase your rights or at least find out who wants to drill and frack in your backyard.  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/FinalProposedOctPubNotice2_395123_7.pdf Check to see if you own your mineral rights, Department of Natural Resources mansonj@michigan.gov (e-mail) 517-335-3232 (phone)
Get your water tested because the burden of proof will be on you.  The energy companies will claim that your water was contaminated before they injected millions of gallons of toxic water through the aquifers.  Get a baseline test of your tap water; test for Benzene and VOC’s. Contact the state Drinking Water Laboratory, DEQ, at 517-335-8184.
Check the DNR map to see if mineral rights near you or in your favorite recreation areas have been leased.  http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/1,1607,7-153-10371_14793-30912--,00.html
Alert your neighbors.  Energy companies will try to purchase private rights for a pittance, influence your neighbors not to sell out.  Learn how to interpret the 50 page leases which will require you to sign a nondisclosure if you want any remediation for toxic water. 
Influence your public officials and candidates to take action.
Pass local moratoriums like West Bloomfield, Detroit, Ferndale, Ingram County.  Some of these can include provisions which make it difficult, expensive and slow for energy companies to operate in our area.  There is some legal difference of opinion regarding state law trumping localities.  For steps localities can take to hold energy companies responsible, see pages 4.  Lobby for fair bond amounts.
Alert the media. Write letters to the editor of papers.
Attend public meetings and make comments. 
Join groups such as  National Wildlife foundation, http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/Policy-Solutions/Drilling-and-Mining/Natural-Gas-Fracking.aspx  Clean Water Action  www.cleanwateraction.org/category/regions/michigan  and Food and Water Watch who are aligned on this issue http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/

 
Kathy Chiaravalli,
Resident of West Bloomfield for 23 years (lives on Cass Lake)
kathych@comcast.net

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