Irwin Calls for Increased Protection to Michigan Waters from Fracking

Package of bills introduced would enact common-sense reforms for hydrofracking in Michigan
Monday, November 7, 2011

LANSING — Representative Jeff Irwin (Ann Arbor) held a press conference today to urge House Republicans to take action to protect Michigan waters from fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking,” is the process that takes millions of gallons of water, mixes it with toxic chemicals - then injects that water into the ground to create fractures, making it possible to extract the natural gas stores below. House Bills 5149-5151 and 4736 were introduced to combat the growing threat to Michigan’s water and air that the fracking process generates.

“Fracking wells in Michigan require a tremendous amount of water,” said Irwin. “Oil and gas companies must be accountable for how much water they are using and they shouldn’t be allowed to drain nearby streams, rivers or neighboring wells for their financial benefit.”

The proposed package of bills would:

  • Close the loophole on the exemption status for the natural gas industry, requiring them to comply with existing state water withdrawal regulations.
  • Pushes pause on fracking by prohibiting the state from issuing permits until further research on the environmental risks is done.
  • Require the Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Natural Resources (DNR), with input from the public, to undertake a comprehensive study of the public health, environmental, and natural resource impacts associated with the extraction of natural gas from shale formations in the state using hydraulic fracturing.
  • Require companies to fully disclose chemicals being used in fracking operations in Michigan.
  • Establish a presumption of liability for a fracking operation if chemicals used in that operation are found in nearby groundwater.

The Protect Michigan Waters from Fracking Campaign is supported by Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), Friends of the Jordan River Watershed, North Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC), Lone Tree Council, and the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition. The Campaign proposes common-sense solutions that would reduce the risks fracking poses to public health and Michigan’s natural resources.

“Michigan’s esteemed Pure Michigan legacy could be severely damaged if our state fails to adequately address the dangers of the fracking industry,” said Irwin. “The best way to protect both Michigan’s public health and its natural resources is to delay any fracking until stronger safeguards are in place.”

House Bills 5149-5151 were introduced on Thursday, November 3rd in the Michigan House of Representatives added to HB 4736 from June of this year. Legislation on chemical disclosure will drop later this week.