LANSING — State Representatives Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores), Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights), Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Tom Cochran (D-Mason), Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) and Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) announced legislation today to increase safeguards on new fracking operations. Nic Clark of Michigan Clean Water Action and Mike Berkowitz of the Michigan Sierra Club joined the representatives at their press conference.
The eight-bill package addresses the risks of high volume hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking.” The legislation will protect public health and water quality, provide transparency for the people of Michigan, hold drilling companies accountable, and protect the state’s tourism industry.
“We have all seen in recent months how vital it is to protect our state’s clean water supply,” Rep. Roberts said. “It just makes sense to establish reasonable safety measures before the state approves any new fracking wells. And, until those measures are in place we want a moratorium on any new fracking permits.”
Currently, oil and gas companies are exempt from disclosing the chemicals they inject underground. Also, the law doesn’t require using the water withdrawal assessment tool to ensure that individual and cumulative water uses are not affecting surface waters or other users.
“Before any new permits are issued, we need to make sure that oil and gas fracking will not be taking place right next to schools, hospitals, homes, day cares, and public parks,” Rep. Greig said. “I’m proposing a bill to protect vulnerable populations by requiring fracking sites to be set back at least 5,000 feet from these sensitive locations.”
The legislative package also aims to give the public and locals more of a voice in new fracking sites while ensuring that if contamination occurs, the drilling companies are held accountable.
“If a fracking operation causes groundwater contamination, the public needs to be able to hold the drilling company accountable,” Rep. Plawecki said. “Current state law stacks the deck in favor of drilling companies by making it very hard to prove who was responsible for the pollution. The public and our communities must also have a voice in the process of new permits being issued.”
Other bills in the package would:
- Require the disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process.
- Require oil and gas drillers to use the state water withdrawal assessment tool to monitor impacts on all waterways when their water use exceeds 100,000 gallons a month.
- Ban the use of fracking wastewater as a roadway dust control spray.
- Allow local governments or interested parties to request a public hearing on a permit application in the community where the well would be.
- Allow local units of government to regulate fracking operations in their communities.
For more information about fracking, the bills in the package, or to sign a petition supporting the legislation, visit www.protectmiwater.com