Michigan Fracking Ban Initiative (2016)

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The Michigan Fracking Ban Initiative may appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot in Michigan as an indirect initiated state statute. The measure, upon voter or legislative approval, would prohibit the use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in Michigan. Additionally, the initiative would ban the production, storage, disposal and processing of horizontal hydraulic fracturing wastes in the state. The measure would also remove from state statute an imperative to "to foster the development of the [gas and oil] industry along the most favorable conditions and with a view to the ultimate recovery of the maximum production of these natural products."[1]

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is looking to get the initiative placed on the 2016 ballot after failing to do so in 2012 and 2014.[2]

Background

Fracking

See also: Fracking

Fracking is the process of injecting fluid - mostly water and sand but with additional chemicals - into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release hydrocarbons, including natural gas, inside. It’s the use of hydraulic fracturing in combination with horizontal drilling that has led to a boom in natural gas production by making access to the oil and gas in shale formations commercially viable.[3]

Fracking in Michigan

See also: Fracking in Michigan
Map of high volume hydraulic fractured wells
Fracked wells in Michigan legend.png

According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, oil and gas companies have practiced hydraulic fracturing in the state since 1952.[4] According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals, oil production has increased since 2005. In 2013, 7,780,000 barrels of oil were produced in the state. Production of natural gas, however, has fallen between 2000 and 2012. In 2000, 243 billion cubic feet of natural gas was produced in Michigan. By 2012, this number fell to 127.2 billion cubic feet.

The map to the left shows active permits and applications for high volume hydraulic fracturing in Michigan from 2008 to July 14, 2014. In total, the map represents 59 wells.[5]

A study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), a research consulting firm, for the American Petroleum Institute attributed 182,040 jobs, or 3.6 percent of state employment in Michigan in 2011, to jobs created directly, indirectly, or induced, from the oil and natural gas industry. The industry directly employed 53,044 people, or one percent of state total employment. Direct, indirect and induced labor income, according to this study, was $8.81 billion, totaling 3.5 percent of Michigan's labor income in 2011. Direct labor income from the mining sector was $2.39 billion, or 1 percent of the state's total.[6]

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), formed by executive order in 1995, oversees oil and gas extraction in the state.

The Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA) is an industry group founded in 1934 that "represents the exploration, drilling, production, transportation, processing and storage of crude oil and natural gas" in Michigan. The group has nearly 1,000 members, including both independent and major oil companies.[7]

Support

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan 2014 logo.png

The campaign in support of the initiative is being led by the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan.[8]

The campaign committee is pursing an initiative because the group believes "that only a ban on fracking will protect our health and safety, our precious fresh water, communities, parks, forests, schools, businesses, farms, tourism, wildlife, and environment from the devastating harms of the massive, industrial-scale fracking planned for Michigan and the enormous amount of frack wastes inherently created in the fracking process, including wastes that would come here from other states where fracking takes place."[9]

Supporters

Organizations

  • Alcona Local Foods Association[10]
  • Ban Michigan Fracking
  • Barry County Democratic Committee
  • Canadians for Action on Climate Change
  • Climate SOS Canada
  • Coalition to Protect New York
  • Community Environmental Legal Defense Council, Inc.
  • Council of Canadians
  • Crawford County Peaceseekers
  • Don't Frack West Michigan
  • Energy Justice Network
  • Faith Communities Together for Frac Awareness
  • FoodNotFracking.org
  • FrackbustersNY
  • Frack Free Michiana
  • Freshwater Accountability Project
  • Gray Panthers of Metro Detroit
  • Gray Panthers of Washtenaw
  • Green Party of Michigan
  • Hood Research
  • Idle No More
  • Kentucky Climate Action
  • Manistee Water Guardians
  • Marcellus Protest
  • Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
  • MOMS Advocating Sustainability
  • Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoff
  • Natural Awakenings Magazine
  • New York Climate Action Group
  • North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
  • North Oakland Democratic Club
  • Northwest Ohio Alliance to Stop Fracking
  • Occupy Wall Street Outreach Working Group
  • Occupy Wall Street Environmental Solidarity Working Group
  • Peace Action of Michigan
  • The Peace Center, Kalamazoo
  • Peace of the Action
  • Popular Resistance
  • Progressive Democrats of the Michigan Democratic Party
  • Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE)
  • Superior Land Preservation Society
  • Sustainable Chattanooga
  • Traverse Watershed Greens
  • Treasure the Karoo Action Group, South Africa
  • Voices4Earth
  • Williams County Alliance
  • Wrong Kind of Green

Arguments

LuAnne Kozma, Campaign Director for the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, and Ellis Boal, legal counsel for the committee, argued that state law protects "the gas industry" over "water and human health." They said voters need to ban fracking in order to protect water and human health. The two contended:

Michigan set a national record for the country's most water-consuming frack well. The horizontal well in Kalkaska County used over 21 million gallons of water. Other wells in Michigan are using similar, astounding amounts.

Encana Corporation, the operator, announced in January [2013] it identified 1,700 well locations in the northern Lower Peninsula. In February, it downgraded the number to 500. Encana puts multiple wells and six or eight horizontal bores in one location. Multiply all these numbers and you get a whole lot of water — at a time of record low lake levels and moderate drought.

Last year [2012], Encana spread 40,000 gallons of frack flowback on Michigan roads and in a private campground. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality allowed it but later admitted its mistake. Recipients of the waste spreading weren't notified until this year by a nonprofit organization, Ban Michigan Fracking. In other states, spills like this result in investigations and fines.

The DEQ has other credibility problems. It won't apply state injection well rules to frack wells, even though half the injected frack fluid is disposed onsite.

Despite these problems, Michigan is planning to promote the new horizontal fracking throughout the state. This amid documented reports around the country of farms and residential water wells becoming contaminated after drilling, frack wells being installed next to homes and schools, horrific air pollution in communities, and illness in people and animals. The one thing the frack industry cannot get around is that it produces a staggering amount of toxic waste...

We feel water and human health need protection, not the gas industry.

The requirement to maximize production is a linchpin in state decisions to compulsorily pool groups of mineral interest owners, including owners who would rather leave hydrocarbons in the ground. Compulsory pooling would be undercut.

The committee's effort is not just a technical attempt to stop horizontal fracking. It takes on the ideology embedded in our law that supports the fossil fuel industry.

—LuAnne Kozma and Ellis Boal[11]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-66), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Natural Gas, deemed fracking "safe" and concluded "it has the potential to greatly improve our state's ability to produce energy." He said there is no contradiction between protecting the environment and fracking. Nesbitt elaborated:

As chair of the House Subcommittee on Natural Gas, I conducted hearings that discovered that over $6 billion of economic activity and nearly 23,000 jobs are contributed to Michigan’s economy each year by the natural gas industry. Because of natural gas, nearly $10 billion in investments will be needed in the Great Lakes region. As the demand for natural gas grows, so does the number of jobs...

Unfortunately, some have failed to acknowledge the facts surrounding the process of fracking. Instead, there have been attempts to promote falsehoods in order to advance certain agenda. Most, if not all, of these claims have been proven to be factually inaccurate.

One example is the claim that hydraulic well stimulation contaminates drinking water. A study issued by the Environmental Protection Agency declared, after 200 peer-reviewed publications, additional research and public comment, they had failed to find one case of underground drinking water contamination from the process.

In Michigan, this process has been used for over 50 years to safely extract oil and gas from over 12,000 wells. During that time, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has not found a single case where hydraulic well stimulation resulted in adverse effects on the environment. Many view Michigan as a leader when it comes to environmental regulations of the fracturing process, while maintaining and protecting our state's natural beauty and resources.

The development of natural gas and the promotion of clean energy policies do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, recently, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported greenhouse gas emissions have dropped to a 20-year low in this country. That is extraordinary, because the U.S. economy is 60 percent larger than it was in 1992, and our energy consumption has grown by 14 percent. The EIA attributes this drop mainly to a greater use of natural gas.

Energy independence should be pursued and studied through honest discussion. The establishment of cleaner, more reliable fuel sources can be a reality, but we must take realistic approaches based on facts to achieve it. We cannot allow ideologues to pollute productive discussions that can lead to more jobs, lower energy prices and greater stability to our children and grandchildren.[12]

—Rep. Aric Nesbitt[13]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

2012

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan originally sought to get a initiated constitutional amendment approved for the November 6, 2012, ballot, but failed to collect enough signatures. The group needed to collect 322,609 valid signatures.[14]

2014

The Committee tried to get an indirect initiative placed on the November 4, 2014, general election ballot. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved the committee's petition for circulation on February 15, 2013.[14] Between April and October 2013, proponents reported collecting about 70,000 signatures. Supporters of the initiative needed to gather 258,088 valid signatures and submit them by May 28, 2014. While supporters could have kept collecting signatures past October, they decided to cease circulating the petition. They did so because signatures older than 180 days become "stale and void," according to Michigan law. The Committee explained, "With 70,000 signatures gathered April through October, we could continue gathering signatures and drop off the signatures gathered in the earlier months, extend the six-month window, or begin fresh in December and go all the way to May, dropping all 70,000 signatures already collected and asking people to sign again. And get enough new people in the process."[15]

2016

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is now aiming for the November 8, 2016, ballot.[2] Since Michigan's signature requirements are tied to the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor at the last election, the number of signatures required will be determined when election results are officially certified for Michigan's 2014 gubernatorial election. The Committee's proposed initiative amends statute and therefore requires signatures equalizing eight percent of the total vote cast for governor.

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Basic information

Support

References

  1. Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, "Ballot Language," accessed November 12, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Great Lakes Echo, "Michigan group postpones petition to ban fracking," February 13, 2014
  3. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Energy in Brief,” accessed January 28, 2014
  4. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, "Five facts about Hydraulic Fracturing," accessed November 12, 2014
  5. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, "High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Active Applications and Active Permits - Since 2008. July 14, 2014
  6. PricewaterhouseCooper LLP, "Economic Impacts of the Oil and Natural Gas Industry on the US Economy 2011," July 2013
  7. Michigan Oil and Gas Association, "Welcome," accessed July 16, 2014
  8. Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, "Homepage," accessed November 12, 2014
  9. Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, "About Us," accessed November 12, 2014
  10. Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, "Endorsements," accessed November 12, 2014
  11. MLive, "Point-Counterpoint: Michigan voters need to ban fracking to protect human health, environment," March 1, 2013
  12. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  13. MLive, "Point-Counterpoint: Natural gas fracking deserves open, honest discussion," March 1, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 MLive, "Michigan 'fracking' opponents plan to begin voter signature collection effort in April," February 15, 2013
  15. Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, "Status of Ballot Initiative," accessed November 12, 2014