Tag: Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing

Colorado Rules That State Laws Trump Local Bans on Fracking

On Monday May 2, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that state laws regulating the oil and gas industry trump local bans and moratoriums on fracking.  Colorado has become a leader in oil and gas production with more than 50,000 actives wells and more than 45,000 inactive wells.  The high court overturned Longmont’s 2012 ban on fracking and fracking waste disposal, as well as Fort Collins’ five –year moratorium on fracking on the grounds that these local measures “operationally conflict[]” and “materially impedes” state power.

By contrast, the law in Michigan preempts regulation by counties and townships on oil and gas operations only as it relates to the zoning of the location and related “location, drilling, completion, operation, or abandonment” of oil and gas wells.  In other words, townships and counties do have some authority and ability to regulate related facilities, processes, and activities, such as natural gas pipelines, flow lines, gathering lines, treatment or production facilities, or compressors, pursuant to the Addison Township v. Gout case. Click here for more information about local authority to regulate ancillary activities of oil and gas in Michigan.

 

Read the full news stories from the Denver Post and Forbes.

 

Allegan County News: Fracking – Gun Plain continues process

Read the full article in the Allegan County News here

By Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

The Gun Plain Township board and the planning commission had a joint informational meeting Wednesday, July 17, to discuss horizontal hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, with residents.

For the Love Of Water representatives were at the meeting to give a presentation and answer the public’s questions on the issue.

FLOW and the Department of Environmental Quality have both previously met with the board and the planning commission to educate them about fracking.

Fracking is a relatively new technology. It uses a mixture of fresh water, sand and chemicals and injects the mixture in wells at a high pressure to fracture rock and release oil and natural gas.

The method has been used in Michigan since 2010. It can reach depths up to two miles deep and can use up to 21 million gallons of water per well.

According to FLOW executive director Liz Kirkwood, Michigan is ranked 12th in the nation for the production of natural gas and as of May has 52 current fracking wells, 17 pending wells and it is expected to have 200 new wells by the end of this year.

May estimates showed approximately 752,260 acres of land are leased for the purpose of fracking in Michigan with about 25,000 acres leased in Allegan County.

Township supervisor Mike VanDenBerg said none of the 17 pending wells are in the county.

Kirkwood said there are many local risks associated with this unconventional method.

The first is the massive amount of water that is permanently lost. The water used in each well is removed from lakes, stream and groundwater sources.

Another risk, Kirkwood said, is the wastewater that returns to the surface and its disposal. The water can be 10 times saltier than seawater and can also be mixed with other contaminants such as various chemicals or radioactive matter.

In Michigan, the wastewater is disposed of in Class II deep injection wells, of which there are approximately 1,500 throughout the state. This increases the risk of earthquakes in the state, she said.

There is limited disclosure of chemicals used in the water mixture. Over 750 chemicals are used in the process, Kirkwood said, including at least 29 that are known as possible carcinogens. Local authorities are not privy to what chemicals are being used until well after fracking is completed.

Water and air pollution can also occur and a result of fracking, Kirkwood said. Faulty wells can create ways for fracking fluid to contaminate groundwater and aquifers. Excess natural gas from the wells as well as methane, ozone smog and soot from diesel engines, compressor stations and hauling trucks pollute the air.

She said heavy truck traffic not only increases pollution and surface spill risk, but also puts a burden on local road infrastructure and can require new road construction in rural areas. The land being used also has to house all the equipment necessary to complete the fracking process.

In 2010, 21 percent of all natural gas was obtained through fracking; in 2011 30 percent was obtained this way, according to Kirkwood.

“This is a real issue we need to think about because we are investing very heavily in this course,” she said. “I raise this question to all of us, is this the bridge to clean energy and renewable resources that we think that we need to get in order to reduce climate change impacts.”

She said the natural gas and oil industry is currently exempt from key federal environmental laws including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA and Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Some communities have chosen to ban fracking. Some of the advantages are that if it is a real threat to your community it will stop it immediately,” Kirkwood said. “In Michigan bans are tough. Unless the legislature is going to enact a ban it is difficult for townships to do it.”

She said FLOW is committed to working with residents of Gun Plain Township to achieve the outcome that best meets their needs.

For more information, visit flowforwater.org or call (231) 944-1568.

UPDATE: Township Fracking Regulation Ordinance Program

Click here to view and download the full press release PDF

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 14, 2013

Fracking Ordinance Development Program Continues in Cannon Township

Gun Plain Charter Township Program Launches

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – FLOW, the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center, will be traveling down state to both Cannon Township and Gun Plain Charter Township on June 19 to facilitate a three-part workshop on legal strategies to address the impacts of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” FLOW will assist these townships, in Kent and Allegan Counties respectively, to develop protective ordinances to regulate activities and harms related to fracking. Additionally, on June 24, FLOW, in partnership with Dr. Chris Grobbel, will present a similar introductory program in Yankee Springs Township, Barry County; the event is open to the greater community and officials.

In the morning of June 19, FLOW will return to Cannon Township to lead the second of this three-part workshop series. FLOW will facilitate the discussion and decision-making process to help Cannon Township leaders identify the ancillary fracking activities that are most important for their community to regulate. Township authorities and participating citizens will work to identify existing ordinances and craft new ordinances that are protective of land, air, and water impacts associated with fracking. Read the MLive article about the first meeting in Cannon here.

In the evening of June 19, FLOW will launch the first of three workshops in Gun Plain Charter Township. In this workshop, FLOW will provide an educational overview about the process of fracking, potential risks, and what communities can actually do to protect against fracking. FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood explains that the legal strategies in development through this program “include zoning and police power ordinances, moratoriums, bans, and Michigan Environmental Protection Act (“MEPA”), among others.”

FLOW was invited by the grassroots group Concerned Citizens of Barry County to give an educational introductory presentation about fracking to citizens and local leaders. Since the beginning of the year, FLOW has given more than half a dozen of these presentations to groups and communities throughout the state of Michigan. As more meeting and presentations emerge, FLOW is spreading information and legal strategies in an effort to protect the Great Lakes Basin’s communities from the potential water, air, and land-use impacts of horizontal fracking.

Horizontal fracking for oil and natural gas is exempt from many regulatory laws at both the federal and state levels, including the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, the Great Lakes Compact and Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Act. These townships are setting a precedent by being the first in the state of Michigan to develop fracking regulation ordinances in consultation with FLOW. Despite zoning prohibitions to regulate drilling, construction production, and operation of oil and gas wells, townships still do maintain legal authority to regulate ancillary activities, including roads, truck traffic, pipelines, flow lines, gathering lines, location of wells, disclosure of chemical use, air pollution and more. Moreover, townships can rely on other sources of authority such as police power ordinances.

 

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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.

FLOW Local Ordinance Program Brings Fracking Protection to Two Michigan Townships

Click here to view and download the full press release PDF

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2013

FLOW Local Ordinance Program Brings Fracking Protection to Two Michigan Townships

Michigan Communities Seek Regulation of Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Two Michigan Townships—Cannon Township and Gun Plain Charter Township—signed up with FLOW to develop regulatory ordinances on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” FLOW is the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center.  These townships, in Kent County and Allegan County respectively, are taking the lead in protecting their community from the industrial land-use impacts and potential risks of fracking.

Fracking for oil and natural gas is exempt from many regulatory laws at both the federal and state levels, including the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, the Great Lakes Compact and Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Act. These townships are setting a precedent by being the first in the state of Michigan to develop fracking regulation ordinances in consultation with FLOW. Despite zoning prohibitions to regulate drilling, construction production, and operation of oil and gas wells, townships still do maintain legal authority to regulate ancillary activities, including roads, truck traffic, pipelines, flow lines, gathering lines, location of wells, disclosure of chemical use, air pollution and more. Moreover, townships can rely on other sources of authority such as police power ordinances.

Last week, Cannon Township enacted a fracking moratorium and will not consider any requests for fracking activities for a period of six months, so that the township has an opportunity to study potential impacts. On Wednesday, May 22, FLOW held the first of three educational meetings with Cannon Township officials and community members to facilitate the development of a fracking ordinance there. In this process, FLOW works with the township to determine what areas of concern are most pertinent to the community to regulate. FLOW will facilitate this same fracking ordinance development program in Gun Plain Township, and the first meeting there is scheduled for June 19.

“Whether you are for or against fracking, the important things for communities to know are the impacts we face with this high-impact and water-intensive technology, and be prepared in advance to handle it,” remarks FLOW’s founder and chair, Jim Olson.

Gun Plain Township was one of several townships present at the March 18 Allegan County Supervisors meeting at which FLOW was invited to present an educational overview of legal strategies and tools for local communities to regulate fracking. FLOW has delivered a similar educational overview program a dozen times throughout Michigan in the past three months. This informational presentation is based on FLOW’s November 2012 report, “Horizontal Fracturing for Oil and Natural Gas in Michigan: Legal Strategies and Tools for Communities and Citizens.” FLOW’s report highlights legal strategies and policies designed to assist local governments in safeguarding their communities against the unprecedented and cumulative impacts of fracking.

Horizontal fracking requires injecting a cocktail of up to 21 million gallons of water and over 750 chemicals under high pressure into wells in order to fracture deep shale formations and release oil and natural gas. A review of literature on fracking and its associated risks reveals several concerns: (1) massive water withdrawals; (2) groundwater contamination; (3) surface spills and leaks; (4) wastewater management; (5) land-use impacts; (6) truck traffic and burden on infrastructure; (7) lack of public disclosure.

The Collingwood/Utica deep natural gas shale formation spans across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula; since May 2010, around 752,260 acres of Michigan’s state land has been leased for oil and gas development. Grassroots and citizen organizations throughout the state have expressed their concern about fracking in their communities. While there are no producing fracking wells in either Cannon or Gun Plain Townships, most state lands in both counties and a significant portion of private lands have already been leased for exploration.  In response to concerned citizens, these townships are taking preventative action with FLOW’s assistance. FLOW encourages other concerned citizens and coalitions to alert their township Supervisors and examine the need for similar regulatory ordinances to protect against the industrial impacts of fracking.

For more information:
Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director, FLOW, (231) 944-1568
[email protected] | @FlowForWater | www.flowforwater.org

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FLOW is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance public trust solutions to save the Great Lakes. Through its law and policy work, FLOW is raising public awareness about the public trust doctrine and its principles as a unifying framework to protect the commons and address the systemic threats to water, public lands, and the environment throughout the Great Lakes.