“I want to thank the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for holding this public hearing to discuss the impact of the permit application for exploratory drilling.

“This is not part of the protocol for the issuing of the permit, but the reason I requested that this meeting be held is so that you can hear the same outcry in opposition to this permit from Southfield residents that I’ve heard in my office.

“I appreciate you granting my request.

“I’m a lifelong resident of Southfield and have been an elected official in this community since 2011. I know that you will find this a positive and beneficial meeting for the department because all Southfielders — on both sides of this issue, both for and against this permit — have done their research to the best of their ability to form an education decision on this issue.

“I’ve held two town halls on this issue in a broad sense, and we’ve heard from residents on all sides of this issue, and I know you’ll experience that same decorum here tonight.

“I play a unique role here as a state official who also previously served on the city council in Southfield. Currently, I am the minority vice chair, the top ranking Democrat, on the House Local Government Committee.

“During my tenure on city council, we passed countless ordinances on the city level to provide stricter zoning, inspection, setback or operation regulations that may be permissible or not addressed at the state level.

“When I first arrived on city council, we had newly implemented an ordinance that implemented further city regulations and approval for in-home day care. The state has its own regulations but allows for the stricter local ordinance we adopted.

“In 2012, we adopted an ordinance to limit the zoning for alternative financial services like fast check cashing businesses and pawn shops in Southfield, permissible under state law, but now subjected to local zoning regulations.

“In 2014, we adopted an ordinance to limit the zoning of hookah bars in Southfield, establishments that are permissible under state law, but now subjected to local zoning regulations.

“And at the end of 2014, one of my last votes on city council, I supported the city’s restricted zoning and regulation of marijuana facilities, a service that was enshrined in our (state) Constitution in 2008, but which the (state) Supreme Court allowed for local control.

“This is why I strongly believe that the DEQ’s rules with regards to oil and gas drilling permits are inconsistent and contradict our city’s ability to implement the lawful moratorium on such activities and future zoning regulations.

“We are not a community under state management. We govern ourselves here in Southfield.

“The reason this moratorium exists here is because this type of activity has specific implications in a densely populated city such as ours that don’t exist in the sparsely populated areas where other oil drilling and exploration takes place.

“The proposed location at Nine Mile Road and Evergreen is possibly the most densely populated area ever considered for drilling in Michigan. In fact, according to Data Driven Detroit, the exact center of Metro Detroit’s population is planted right here in Southfield.

“The density of this area only amplifies most problems related to drilling: spills, emissions release, ground water contamination, transport accidents and others.

“That’s why I believe drilling in a populated community violates the guiding principal of the DEQ which is to promote ‘wise management of Michigan’s air, land, and water resources to support a sustainable environment, healthy communities and vibrant economy.’ We want to know how this permit exemplifies any of these guiding principles.

“The risk of this permit is too great for the people and resources in the city of Southfield. The process violates our city’s ability to enact lawful zoning regulations.

“Instead of focusing on maximum oil production, focus on maximum people protection. I object to the issuance of this permit.”