Ban Michigan Fracking calls on EPA to halt DEQ’s application for primacy over Michigan’s injection wells, sues DEQ for information on secret “mineral” well, Fracking “has become needy, sucking up a lot of resources and has taken too much control”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 17, 2016

Contact: LuAnne Kozma, president, Ban Michigan Fracking

email hidden; JavaScript is required   231-547-2828

Ban Michigan Fracking calls on EPA to halt DEQ’s application for primacy over Michigan’s injection wells, sues DEQ for information on secret “mineral” well Press Release by Ban Michigan Fracking, February 17, 2016

Charlevoix, Michigan – The non-profit organization Ban Michigan Fracking is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s recent application under the Safe Drinking Water Act for “primacy” or sole control over the state’s class II injection wells. The group also calls for a moratorium on new injection well permits in Michigan and all states in EPA Region 5. BMF cites EPA’s complicity with the DEQ in covering up violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint and its negligence in informing the public.

In a letter to EPA’s former Region 5 Director Susan Hedman on January 29, Ban Michigan Fracking points out that DEQ lied to the EPA in its application for primacy, submitted quietly last August, that it held a December 2014 “public hearing.” The “hearing” was not noticed as a “hearing” but rather as a “meeting.” During the “meeting,” the DEQ illegally turned the first few minutes into a “hearing” with consequently few audience members prepared to give comments.

In addition, the DEQ did not provide EPA with any of the public’s comments. BMF was one of two commenters at the meeting-turned-hearing. BMF also submitted written comments later.

February 1 was Hedman’s last day in office before resigning.

This week the group posted a more detailed account of the DEQ’s primacy application and its implications for Michigan residents faced with the possibility toxic injection wells in their communities. The post can be found here: http://banmichiganfracking.org/?p=3778

“With the Michigan DEQ totally in charge of toxic injection wells, like other states that have ‘primacy” such as Ohio, we would be faced with an onslaught of new frack waste, and the DEQ would be industry’s one-stop-shopping to get their approval,” said LuAnne Kozma, BMF president and the director of the ballot initiative campaign to ban frack wastes.

There are 1,286 Class II injection wells in Michigan, 887 of which are for disposal and the rest for enhanced oil recovery. Two states that have primacy over EPA in class II injection wells and that take in frack wastes in increasing amounts, are Ohio which has about 200 disposal wells, and West Virginia which has 60. In contrast, two states that are administered by different EPA Regions and that don’t have primacy are Pennsylvania with 10 wells and New York, which has 6.

Separately, this week Ban Michigan Fracking, together with landowner Gary Cooley, began a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against DEQ in state court in Lansing.

The suit says DEQ has to provide information about a supposed “mineral well” drilled by Marathon Oil near Cooley’s property in Crawford County.  The well is named “D4-11.”  But DEQ refuses, saying all information is confidential for 10 years. One item DEQ is withholding is Marathon’s environmental impact assessment — a document usually given out freely. BMF’s article of last fall about the well (including a video of the rig) is here:  http://banmichiganfracking.org/?p=3423 .

Ban Michigan Fracking’s (www.banmichiganfracking.org) members are in the leadership of the ballot initiative, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. The Committee is a ballot question committee that seeks to put a ban fracking and frack wastes on the ballot. The Committee’s website is: http://LetsBanFracking.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 16, 2015

Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan

(231) 944-8750          luanne AT letsbanfracking DOT org

Michigan ban fracking ballot initiative resumes collecting signatures to make ballot in 2016 by Let’s Ban Fracking, December 15, 2015

Charlevoix, Michigan – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), has resumed collecting signatures through May 2016 to put the ballot proposal on the November 2016 ballot.  The approximately 150,000 signatures already collected in 2015 will also be used to reach the goal of 252,523 valid signatures before the State’s June 1, 2016 deadline.

The Committee’s legal counsel, Ellis Boal, explained “In the late 1990s, the Michigan legislature created the Qualified Voter File as the document of record that the State is mandated to use to validate signatures on ballot initiative petitions.[1] It has also been Michigan law that signatures older than 180-days prior to submittal are ‘rebuttably presumed to be stale and void’ unless shown to be valid.[2] That is, the signatures we collected are usable if proven valid. We are simply connecting the dots between these two points of law.” (See statutes referenced below).

Previously in Michigan’s ballot initiative history, organizers have assumed that a 180-day collecting period is set in stone and that signatures collected prior to it could not practically be used because the burden of proving the signatures valid was too burdensome.

Campaign director LuAnne Kozma said, “We’re halfway there. We will get the statewide ban on fracking and frack wastes on the 2016 ballot. We will provide proof of signature validity for as many as possible of the 150,000 signatures already obtained, along with the necessary new signatures we collect through next May. We call on all Michiganders who want to make the effort a success to get involved immediately, by donating to and/or volunteering for the campaign. When we have volunteers out there collecting, people sign.”

The campaign director credits a volunteer base of over 700 people from around the state for working on the campaign, more than doubling the signatures gathered from two years ago. Of the 150,000 signatures collected, volunteers collected over 135,700 and paid circulators collected about 16,000.

To volunteer with the Committee register on the campaign’s website (www.LetsBanFracking.org), take the required training, and use only official petitions printed by the Committee. Volunteers are expected to spend 10 to 20 hours of their time to bring in 200 signatures each.

The Committee commissioned a second poll of Michigan voters in November to gauge public sentiment. A strong 59% majority believes Michigan should ban fracking and frack wastes before the industry creates health problems for residents. An even larger majority – 66% – wants to ban frack waste in Michigan. Poll results can be found on the Committee’s website at www.LetsBanFracking.org.

“These new poll results show that Michigan voters continue to have major concerns about fracking and frack waste harming Michigan’s environment and damaging their health,” said Jim Williams, a polling analyst at Public Policy Polling, the organization commissioned to conduct the poll. “As more and more voters learn about this issue, they are increasingly siding against the fracking industry across demographic groups.”

The ballot language can be found at the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s website www.letsbanfracking.org and also on the Michigan Secretary of State’s website.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is in the process of updating the rebuttal procedure for validating signatures for ballot initiative and is seeking public comment on or before January 8, 2016. See: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Announcement_-_Comments_re_180_days_508443_7.pdf

Are these bills to enable fracing? Bills would halt Michigan fracking, require chemical cocktail disclosure by Garret Ellison with contributions by Emily Lawler, February 11, 2016, MLive capitol

LANSING, MI — It’s not us, fracking. It’s you.

House Democrats want Michigan to dump high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial oil and gas extraction practice that some lawmakers want to temporarily halt until updated regulations are passed in the wake of a failed petition drive last year to place a statewide ban on the 2016 ballot. [Why is the media lying about the petition? See above]

Democrats say that, while vertical fracking has been used for years in Michigan, the newer technique of horizontal fracking requires updated regulations that better address the chemicals and massive volumes of water used in the process.

In a tongue-in-cheek press conference on Thursday, Feb. 11, bill sponsor Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, framed the state’s relationship with fracking as something akin to a thrill-is-gone romance in need of a Valentine’s Day break-up.

Fracking “has become needy, sucking up a lot of resources and has taken too much control,” said Roberts. “We think its time to take a break, re-evaluate our relationship and start fresh with some new rules.”

The eight-bill package introduced Thursday afternoon would place a moratorium on new fracking permits, require fracking wells be at least 5,000 feet from “sensitive” locations like schools, hospitals, homes, and public parks, and require full disclosure of all chemicals used in the process.

“The public has the right to know what chemicals are being injected underground the state of Michigan and they should know that before the permit is granted,” said Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.

Other proposed rules would require drillers more closely monitor waterway impacts when their use exceeds 100,000 gallons-per-month, ban use of fracking wastewater in roadway dust control, increase liability if contaminated groundwater is discovered and give local governments greater say in permitting decisions by including them in the regulatory process.

“We want our counties and townships, which are specifically prohibited from regulating wells, to have some say in the operation, location and abandonment of wells,” said Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills.

The proposals drew swift fire from Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which said they would raise energy prices and endanger Michigan jobs.

… Although the effort to ban horizontal fracking failed to gain traction last year, the new legislation hopes to piggyback on national attention paid to Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis and heightened public sensitivity to water quality and infrastructure issues in general.

John Griffin, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan, said current Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regulations already cover concerns addressed in the bill package, which has a tough road ahead in the Republican-controlled legislature.

… He characterized the non-disclosure of chemicals in the fracking process as a way for oil and gas companies to maintain valuable trade secrets. “Say one company has a fluid mixture that’s advantageous and sought after — if they disclose it, their competitor can go out and copy it,” Griffin said.

Democrats have created a website to advocate and gather signatures in support of the bills, which are expected to be assigned on Friday to the Republican-controlled natural resources committee, chaired by Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township. [Emphasis added]

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