ANN ARBOR — State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) andAdam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) were joined at a press conference today by Eric Keller of Michigan Clean Water Action as they announced the introduction of eight bills designed to shed light on hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking.” The package of legislation will provide transparency for families and individuals, protect public health and water quality, hold drilling companies accountable, and protect the state’s tourism industry.

“These deep, horizontal fracking operations should disclose the chemicals they are pumping underground, and they should be held publicly accountable for their massive water use,” Irwin said. “Nobody should be allowed to pump a nearby creek or well dry. My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to make sure this process is safe and transparent.”

New fracking techniques have caused a number of problems in other states, including water contamination, subsidence, and even earthquakes. The legislation seeks to prevent those problems in Michigan. It would prohibit drillers from pumping aquifers and streams to extinction and to give citizens access to information about which chemicals are being injected underground. Bills in the package would:

  • Require the disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process and report the water used when it exceeds 100,000 gallons
  • Give municipalities and individuals the opportunity to request a public hearing before a fracking permit is issued, letting people have a say in the process
  • Allow local units of government to control fracking operations in their communities
  • Create a public-private advisory committee to study the effects of fracking and make recommendations
  • Increase the setback distance of fracking operations from residential areas and apply it to schools, hospitals, day care centers and parks

“My bill allows local control of where fracking sites can be located,” Driskell said. “I believe it’s important for our citizens to participate in the decision-making process when issues like this impact them right in their backyard.”

To date, some 930 chemicals have been used in the fracking process, including chemicals with known health risks such as benzene, naphthalene and ethylene glycol (antifreeze). According to information from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, current and pending drilling permits show fracking operations plan use an estimated 500 million gallons of water. One drilling company is proposing 500 new sites and anticipates using 4 billion gallons of Great Lakes water. Water that is contaminated or injected deep underground will be permanently unavailable for other uses.

Irwin, Driskell and Zemke urge residents to visit, where they can find information about fracking, learn about the bills in the package and sign a petition supporting the legislation.