Hastings Meeting Discusses Issue Of Fracking
The process uses high pressured water, sand and chemicals to fracture rock deep beneath the surface to release pockets of natural gas.
People from across West Michigan made their way to Hastings tonight to learn more about the process, because next week on May 8th, leases for mineral rights on state land, including more than 20,000 acres in Barry County, will be up for auction, and private fracking companies are very interested in moving in.
Fracking wells won't be allowed in state parks, but the corporations would be required to lease mineral rights from the state.
This is because once they begin fracking on private property surrounding state lands, they would be able to harvest natural gas from the state land as well, which could mean a significant income stream for the state, as well as private landowners.
However, tonight's meeting had more to do with what else the operations could all mean.
Maryann Lesrt, part of a group called Ban Michigan Fracking, had several concerns to voice tonight. First among them was water use.
According to Michigan Clean Water Action, new fracking methods which would be used in Michigan could use up to 5 million gallons per well--100 times that of traditional methods.
Lesrt also cited a claim that, "the oil and gas industry associated with fracking has been completely exempted" from the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement which limits water consumption to 100,000 gallons per day.
Troubling for others is the chemicals our fresh water resources are combined with to create the high-pressure fracking fluid.
"They list minimum of 29 known carcinogens," Lesrt said.
If the chemical mixture is deemed a trade secret, frackers aren't even required to divulge what they use.
Barry County Commissioner Jeff VanNortwick took a more balanced approach, saying he was concered at the provisions the state would have in place for protection, while emphasizing he wanted to "get the science in front of this thing first."
According to the DEQ, fracking started in Michigan in 1952, and more than 12,000 wells have been fracked since then with no reported incidents.
In addition, no fracking project can be approved by the DEQ if there is any known adverse impact on natural resources.
It was made clear tonight that the process is loud, smelly and ugly, regardless of where it is.
Additionally, several pieces of legislation at the state level are being considered now to make the process more transparent and beef up restrictions.