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.