Contact Members of the MI House Oversight and Ethics Committee to Oppose HB 4540

We urge you to contact members of the Michigan Oversight and Ethics Committee to oppose a new House Bill (4540) that was introduced last week by Rep Heise and is going to committee on Thursday May 14.  The bill would permanently block public access to energy system safety records under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This legislation is unnecessary because federal rules already address national security issues for pipelines and Michigan’s FOIA law already exempts disclosure of records that would jeopardize safety and security.

Basic information “about the production, generation, transportation, transmission, or distribution of fuel or energy” would become exempt from Michigan’s FOIA.  Residents would not be allowed to have information about what is going through pipelines on their property, among other things, like what the oil or gas company plans to do if a pipeline ruptures on their property.

Please phone the committee members as shown below before Thursday, May 14 and let them know your thoughts:

Ed McBroom (R) Committee Chair, 108th District (517) 373-0156
Martin Howrylak (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 41st District (517)373-1783
Toll-free: (877) 248-0001
Joseph Graves (R) 51st District (517) 373-1780 Toll-free: (866) 989-5151
Lana Theis (R) 42nd District (517) 373-1784
Rose Mary Robinson (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 4th District (517) 373-1008,
Toll-free (855) 654-0404
Kristy Pagan (D) 21st District (517) 373-2575

Find more information here:http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/05/06/oil-gas-pipelines-freedom-information-foia-exempt/70923006/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May’s Letter to the Editor postings

Letter to the Editor

Many of you felt the earthquake recently on May 2. I live in Yankee Springs and I heard a loud roar and my house shook for 8-10 seconds.  It is said that the epicenter of the 4.2 quake was near Galesburg.  What might have caused this I wonder?  Earthquakes are not common in Michigan.  Not yet anyway.  Our last one was in 1994 and the last one of this magnitude was the 4.6 back in 1947.

According to recent studies earthquakes have increased dramatically since the new method of drilling for gas and oil called high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, fracking for short, has been used to drill for gas and oil.  Fracking is the technique of injecting water, sand and chemicals under high pressure deep underground to crack shale rock and release gas and oil.  The waste, or ‘produced ‘ water, as it is called, is stored deep in the ground by injecting it under high pressure.

Within the central and eastern United States, the number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years. Between the years 1973–2008, there was an average of 21 earthquakes of magnitude three and larger in the central and eastern United States. This rate jumped to an average of 99 earthquakes per year in 2009–2013, and the rate continues to rise. In 2014, alone, there were 659 earthquakes in the eastern United States.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) there is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities such as injection of fluid into the earth’s crust and extraction of fluid or gas.

A team of USGS scientists led by Bill Ellsworth found that earth quakes coincided with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells in several locations, including ColoradoTexas, ArkansasOklahoma and Ohio. In the Jan 6, 2015 Bulletin of the Seismology Society of America it was stated that a series of 77 earthquakes in Ohio were caused by fracking.

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is beginning a Ballot Initiative Petition Drive to ban fracking and the storage of fracking waste in Michigan May 22nd.  This is a grass roots organization led by concerned people who want to protect Michigan and its water from the consequences of fracking.  High volume fracking has only been used since 2010 in Michigan but it has been used extensively in other states and the serious problems they are having are now becoming known. Let us learn from the experience of others and protect our state and water now.  Interested people who would like to work on this campaign are invited to attend the Petitioner Training May 21st.  at 7:00 pm at the Thomas Jefferson Hall, 328 S. Jefferson St. Hastings. To learn more about the petition campaign go to letsbanfracking.org or banmichiganfracking.org.

Jackie Schmitz

 

Is It Time to Look Harder at Renewable Energy?

The Michigan earthquake on May 2, 2015 brought back some interesting memories for our family.  We have lost two water wells as a result of earthquakes in the past 19 years.  We were living near Augusta in Kalamazoo County in January, 1986 when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in northeastern Ohio.  That night our well started pumping sand instead of water; the casing was broken by the earthquake.  The interesting thing I learned later is that Ohio University researchers implicated pressure from the injection of chemical wastes into a nearly 6,000-foot deep sandstone formation in triggering that earthquake and two aftershocks.

I’m not suggesting this week’s earthquake was triggered by injection wells or any human activity, but it’s likely that recent quakes around the country have been caused by human activity.  There is a great deal of documentation of a marked increase in the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma, Ohio, Colorado, and other states, along with scientific consensus that they are caused by injecting fluids deep into the earth under high pressure.  Maybe this is an example of just going too far in extracting hydrocarbons from the earth and using them to create more toxic chemicals and waste which then has to be disposed of.  Is it time to take a serious interest in renewable energy?  Governor Snyder and the legislature plan to completely review Michigan’s energy policy this year.  If you have an interest in reducing hydrocarbon extraction, let them know your thoughts.

Cindy Vigneron

 

Letter to the Editor

Risks associated with fracking for oil and gas that are acknowledged by banks and insurance companies, are the same risks that producers and the agencies that regulate them say do not exist at all. As a result, the unmitigated risk is shifted by corporations and government regulators to homeowners who happen to live in close proximity to oil and gas production.

Some banks and mortgage companies do not approve financing for such homes, and some insurance companies are beginning to cancel or deny coverage of properties where oil and gas production is occurring. Because mortgage agreements typically contain prohibitions against hazardous materials on properties subject to mortgages, signing oil and gas leases could well put landowners in breach of their mortgage agreements, triggering loan accelerations or foreclosures.

Reduction in the fair market value of homes located near drilling operations have been documented which produces the ripple effect of shrinking property tax revenues for already-strapped municipalities.

Many claim that oil and gas production is a public good. If it is, then the public should ask if it’s fair to expect private individuals who in many cases do not share in any of the financial benefit, to bear all of the risk.

Marybeth Pritschet

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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   www.concernedhealthny.org . 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.

Synopsis:
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: http://graham.umich.edu/knowledge/ia/hydraulic-fracturing   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 karenfifelsi@yahoo.com  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 karenfifelski@yahoo.com.

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:

http://graham.umich.edu/knowledge/ia/hydraulic-fracturing/draft-ia

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment