FLOW Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to Strengthen Its Proposed 2014 Fracking Regulations to Protect Michigan’s Water, Air, and Land Resources

August 1, 2014


Contact: Liz Kirkwoood, Executive Director

231 944 1568 or liz@flowforwater.org

FLOW Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to Strengthen Its Proposed 2014 Fracking Regulations to Protect Michigan’s Water, Air, and Land Resources

Traverse City, Mich. – On July 31, 2014, FLOW submitted extensive public comments to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding their proposed fracking regulations on water withdrawals, baseline water quality sampling, monitoring and reporting, and chemical disclosure. FLOW’s comments urge the DEQ to take a number of steps to strengthen the oil and gas regulations governing high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) or fracking.

“As a whole, the DEQ’s proposed new rules to address the risks, impacts, and uncertainties surrounding HVHF in Michigan do not measure up to the values and principles embodied in Michigan’s history, law, and policy,” said FLOW’s president and founder Jim Olson. “They are not strong enough to protect our air, water, natural resources, the public trust, and public health and welfare from the risks HVHF poses.”

FLOW’s written comments elaborate on comments made by Executive Director, Liz Kirkwood, at the DEQ’s Gaylord public hearing on July 15, 2014. “Existing oil and gas laws are built around the assumption that the rule of capture applies to all oil and gas production and that fracking is simply a technique to “enhance” the recovery of another fungible oil and gas liquid.” said Liz Kirkwood, “The DEQ cannot and should not bootstrap fracking into conventional oil and gas development regulations.” Key recommendations included:

Notice and Comment Requirements: The application process on drilling permits should be subject to formal notice, comments, and hearing procedures as required under current Michigan law.

Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment: The environmental impact assessment should examine the entire area of potential impact, beyond the drilling pad site, and consider alternatives and cumulative impacts as required by the Oil and Gas

August 1, 2014Act and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act.

Good Faith Effort Not Enough for Pooling Authorization: The department should prohibit the drilling of wells prior to all properties being leased or a compulsory pooling hearing is conducted; otherwise, the proposed rules are likely to run afoul due process and takings challenges. Fracking should be prohibited on any property that has not voluntarily agreed to be leased.

Chemical Disclosure in Drilling Application: The regulations should require full disclosure of all fracking chemicals as part of the drilling application, not 30 days after the well has been completed.

Baseline Sampling Before, During and After Drilling: Baseline testing should be integral part of the drill permit application and after the drilling has occurred. Given the large water withdrawals associated with fracking and the impacts of surface and ground waters, baseline testing should sample both water levels and flows.

Evaluation of Adverse Impacts: Mitigate adverse impacts to all water bodies, especially headwaters, by requiring a separate high-volume water withdrawal approval with adequate hydrogeological baseline data to be filed along with the drilling permit application.

Interference Requirements: Increase isolation distance between hydraulically fractured wells (> 660 feet) and offset wells in the current regulations.

FLOW urged the DEQ to consider these additional changes, as well as review the pending final Graham Sustainability Institute’s Integrated Assessment, which examines the reality of fracking and the entire regulatory framework. Failure to do so increases risk of waste, health, safety and welfare, harm to the environment, and threatens property owners and citizens who use and enjoy Michigan’s abundant water and natural resources.

FLOW’s submitted comments enhance and support its Local Government Ordinance Program to provide technical assistance to township and counties in Michigan experiencing associated fracking impacts to their local air, water, and land resources.

FLOW also was a signatory to an another public comment submitted by the Anglers of the AuSable, Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LVC), Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Moms Clean Air Force, and more than 20 other environmental and conservation organizations.

View the full comments here: DEQ Comments 

FLOW is the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to advance public trust solutions to save the Great Lakes.



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