Several “Letters to the Editor” for all to read

Letter to the editor:

Many communities have passed bans, moratoriums and protective ordinances to address the dangers of the newer method of drilling for gas and oil called high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ for short.  Some countries such as Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Ireland and Bulgaria have instituted bans or moratoriums on fracking.

Vermont and New York have passed statewide bans and twps. counties and cities in Tx, CA, Ohio have passed moratoriums, and ordinances.  Several townships in Michigan have also passed moratoriums and implemented ordinances.  The City of Grand Rapids is working on a moratorium and others are in the works.

Protective ordinances can be developed to address heavy truck traffic, fresh water withdrawals, Pipelines, 24/7 lighting and noise, dangerously open well pads, storage and transport of chemicals, baseline water testing, etc.  Moratoriums are often enacted to provide time to develop good protective ordinances.

Three nonprofit environmental groups have received a grant from the Wege Foundation to help communities develop individualized protective ordinance packages at no cost to the municipality other than travel expenses (from Traverse City).   This week Brian Keeley, from Kent County Water Conservation, presented this information to the Barry County Commissioner’s Committee of the Whole.  The commissioners voted not to accept this opportunity.

Do the commissioners not care about the health and well-being of their citizens?

Do they not want to protect the quiet, clean and peaceful nature of Barry County from industrialization?

At virtually no cost to them or the residents they represent?

What are they thinking?

If you share the concerns of many of our Barry County residents regarding the potential environmental, health and esthetic problems related to fracking, please contact your local government officials.  Urge them to take advantage of assistance from experienced professionals who can help us develop comprehensive protective local ordinances to address the dangers of fracking to our community.  Protect Barry County!

 Jackie Schmitz  3/17/15


Letter to the Editor: Hastings Banner                  

It was a crazy idea 60+ years ago for Michigan to let an oil company put pipelines through the water of the Straits of Mackinaw, across Michigan and the St. Clair River at Port Huron.  Those old pipes are moving 500,000 barrels of heated, heavy tar sands crude oil from Western Canada to China and Europe.

The Enbridge Company operating those old pipes have offered no believable engineering evidence that those pipes are safe.  Of course, the company says the pipes are safe.  What else would you expect?  You remember the Enbridge pipes with the huge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River four years ago.  A leak in water would cause major damage to fishing industry and life there.  Oil companies ought to be required to take complete cost for the damage done from breaks in their pipes.

The public interest demands constant checking on those old pipes and equipment for immediate shut off.  None of this is going on now and it is time this kind of surveillance is installed in the public health interest.  The public ought to demand the best possible protection against a break.

Governor Snyder needs to use his authority to push plans to get those pipes out of the water before disaster ruins life in those waters.  It is impossible to clean up all that tar.  The life of fish and other water life is being risked to help Enbridge sell oil to the world.  Concerned people ought to ask Governor Snyder at P.O. Box 30013, Lansing 48909.  The future of generations unborn demands this.

George C. Williston  28 March, 2015


Board Pass on Wege Grant is a Pass on an Opportunity to Protect Our County

I am disappointed, but not surprised that the Barry County commissioners voted to turn down a $5,000 grant from the Wege Foundation to explore ordinances to control oil and gas development in the county.  At a January public information session on environmental issues in Barry County, Matthew Zimmerman of Varnum Law referenced the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (125.3205) which states that “a county or township shall not regulate or control the drilling, completion, or operation of oil or gas wells…”  I believe that the outcome of last week’s board meeting was set at that point.  Although the statute only applies to well pads and Mr. Zimmerman went on to explain the wide latitude local municipalities have to regulate other impacts associated with drilling, it seemed at that moment county officials took a free pass to fold back into a Business as Usual policy.

The purpose of the presentation brought to last week’s county commission meeting by the Barry County Community Rights Team, given by Brian Keeley of Kent County Water Conservation, was to preview what the county can do in terms of enacting protective ordinances regarding oil and gas development activities.  Whether or not the process results in ‘new information,’ it would be worth it to send a message to the Michigan legislature, DEQ, and DNR that Barry County is interested in protecting its natural resources from unsustainable and unsafe commercial practices.

“They” (whatever that means to each of us when we think of who is going to protect our land, air, water, health , and ecosystems) are not going to change until “we” change and demand protection of the natural resources we have left.  If the local people in a region don’t protect their own neighborhood, who will?  Not the State, corporations, or federal regulators.   When we demand that our neighborhood be protected, an opportunity like the one proposed in Barry County will be something that the board will be happy to undertake.

Cindy Vigneron

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LTE on Health Hazards of Fracking

Letter to the editor from Karen Fifelski, Hopkins

March 8, 2015

Dear Editor;

I‘ve been reading the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking . This compilation of evidence was used in New York as rationale for their moratorium – now a ban on fracking.

As a registered nurse I’m outraged that a process such as high volume horizontal fracking (HVHF) is allowed anywhere!  The health hazards are tremendous. As a group, oil and gas industry workers have an on-the job fatality rate that is 2.5 times higher than the construction industry. A recent investigation found high levels of benzene in the urine of workers on the well pad.  It has been known since the early 1900’s that benzene causes cancer including bladder, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome.  The LA times recently reported benzene levels in wastewater up to 700X federal standards!  This will elevate risks for future cancers in workers and nearby residents.

The thick cloud of silica dust in the air around fracking operations expose workers and local residents, putting them at risk for lung cancer and other respiratory illness.  Exposure to the volatile organic compounds put the unborn at risk for low birth rate and birth defects.  There are not only carcinogens emitted from these sites, but chemicals that cause respiratory and cardiovascular illness and neurotoxins which disrupt the immune and nervous systems.

There is an approach called the Precautionary Principle.  The idea is “first do no harm”. This would be a novel approach considering the serious risks to human health and the environment. Our leaders are not using the Precautionary Principle.  Cancer rates are climbing. Health care costs are soaring.  Are you willing to risk your health and the health of your loved ones?   I’m not.  Michigan must have a moratorium now on HVHF…at the very least.

Thank you for considering my letter.


Karen Fifelski

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie Living Downstream to be shown again

Documentary movie Living Downstream to be shown in the Allegan Public Library, March 24, 2015.

Living Downstream is an award winning film that follows Sandra Steingraber for 1 year as she travels across North America working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links. We are able to follow the invisible toxicants as they migrate to some of the most beautiful places in North America. We will also see how these chemicals enter our bodies and once they are inside, how scientists believe they are working to cause cancer.
Several experts in the fields of toxicology and cancer research make appearances in the film, highlighting their own findings on two pervasive chemicals: atrazine and PCB.
This film is a powerful reminder of the intimate connection between the health or our bodies and the health of our air, land and water.

For further details, click here to see the flyer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dear MLAWD members:

This winter MLAWD has been showing the documentary Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber.   This is an eye opening look at the link between the contamination of our environment and the effects on our health.  Sandra is also a strong activist against fracking.

During these viewings, there have been inquiries about what MLAWD is doing now and MLAWD’s debt from the law suit.   We apologize for lack of communication with all of you on these matters and would like to take this opportunity to update you.

As you know from previous communications, last year the MDEQ proposed a few new fracking rules and regulations.  It is our feeling that the substance of the proposed rules has more to do with MDEQ public relations efforts than genuine interest in strengthening our state’s lax rules.  We will let you know when the agency finalizes the rules.

The Graham Institute of the University of Michigan issued its final report on fracking in Michigan last week, and is accepting public comment until March 30, 2015.  We are reviewing the report.  We encourage you to follow this link to review the report yourselves at:   to write and submit a comment.  Because it is a lengthy report you may want to focus on areas that are of particular interest to you.  This report will have great influence on fracking in Michigan.

Currently MLAWD monitors permits issued in Allegan and Barry Counties.  In November of 2014, an injection well permit was issued.  There have been meetings in Barry County in regards to this including DEQ, a lawyer, elected officials and county residents.

As mentioned above we are offering viewings of Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber.  Please contact Karen Fifelski at  if you are interested in having a group viewing.

Thanks to all of you we have paid most of the debt owed to Olsen, Bzdok and Howard.   Our balance is $7228. Donations accepted and appreciated and may be sent to PO Box 335 Delton, MI 49046.

Are you interested in volunteering?   MLAWD has some ideas—again contact Karen at

Thanks to all!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public Comment Period on University of Michigan Graham Institute Draft Report on Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Open until March 30, 2015

The draft integrated assessment report on hydraulic fracturing in Michigan from the University of Michigan Graham Institute is available for review and public comment through March 30.  The Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Integrated Assessment has been underway since 2012 to evaluate the best environmental, social, and technological approaches for managing hydraulic fracturing in the State of Michigan.

The first phase of the project was the preparation of technical reports on key topics related to hydraulic fracturing in Michigan that were released by the Graham Institute in Sept. 2013.  The document now available for review is the draft version of the final report for the integrated assessment.  The draft report and access to the online public comment area can be found here:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie to be shown

Documentary movie  Living Downstream  to be shown in the Hasting Public Library, February 18, 2015.

For further details, click here to see the flyer.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Article regarding Enbridge pipelines in Michigan


Bridge Magazine of the Center for Michigan, in a 5 December 2014 Guest Commentary by Professors Jim Hill and Ken Winter, suggests a market-based approach to a possible awful oil spill in the Straits of Mackinaw.  The 61-year-old Line 5 pipes of Enbridge Energy Partners could break.  Of course, Enbridge claims the old pipes are perfectly safe.  Remember also that old Enbridge pipes take crude oil across the upper St. Clair River from Port Huron to Sarnia and also are subject to a huge spill into Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.

Hill and Winter suggest that Enbridge sign an agreement with the State of Michigan that Enbridge would be solely and strictly liable for any spill caused by their pipelines on and/or in water.  Michigan gave Enbridge an easement on Michigan land 60-some years ago and Governor Snyder has authority along with the Federal government on those old pipes.

Michigan Radio interviewed Hill and Winter in their Stateside program on 23 December, 2014.  They revealed other important details of the situation.  Hill and Winter cast justifiable doubt on the Michigan government committee which, while well-intended, may be toothless and a simple delay of any real action.  Hill and Winter prefer to avoid government-controlled efforts to fix the potential disaster short of getting the pipelines out of the water entirely.  That interview is or was on the website of Michigan Radio.

Concerned people want action now; and not a lifetime later as risk increases and/or untold damage occurs.  It has to be recognized that any spill in the waters of the Straits or the St. Clair River will be monumentally disastrous and cannot really be cleaned up anyway.  The Enbridge spill in the Kalamazoo River has cost more than a billion dollars, some of which was taxpayer money.  A Straits or St. Clair River spill “clean up” could easily cost several times that amount.

Concerned people need to contact Governor Rick Snyder at P.O. Box 30013, Lansing 48909.  Ask the Governor to use his authority to get an airtight agreement with Enbridge to hold that company wholly and completely liable for damage from another spill.  Secondly, ask the Governor to order steps to insure the complete integrity of the old pipes in the meantime while working to get the pipes replaced on land or bypassed altogether.

George C. Williston

Hastings, Michigan

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment