Democrats Want Fracking Transparency

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- Hundreds of fracking wells could soon be coming to Michigan.

Democrats are not happy about it, and have introduced legislation that would require more transparency when it comes to the controversial drilling process.

They introduced 8 bills on Thursday. Some bills in the package would:

-Require the disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process and report the water used when it exceeds more than 1000,000 gallons

-Give municipalities and individuals the opportunity to request a public hearing before a fracking permit is issued, letting people have a say in the process

-Allow local units of government to control fracking operations in their communities

- Create a public-private advisory committee to study the effects of fracking and make recommendations

-Increase the setback distance of fracking operations from residential areas, and apply it to schools, hospitals, daycare centers and public parks

"Wouldn't you want to know what was in your water?" asked Representative Andy Schor (D)-Lansing.

Currently there's 52 active fracking permits in Michigan. Most of them are in the upper portion of the lower peninsula; but there's talk that the Canadian company Encana Gas and Oil wants to add 500 more wells to the state.

"Not until I know why. I want to know what they're going to put in the ground, and how much water they are going to use and pollute," said Schor.

'Fracking' is a horizontal drilling process that takes place more than a mile under the surface. A mixture of water, sand, and chemicals are pumped through tiny fractures in the rock opening it up and letting oil and natural gas flow back out through the pipe.

"According to EPA there are more than 930 chemicals used in the fracking process," said Representative Sarah Roberts (D)- St. Claire Shores.

The chemicals are mainly used to create better lubrication, and kill off bacteria when fracking.

"It uses a lot of water in the drilling process. Some worry that the fractures will introduce fracking fluids into the aquifers and contaminate them," said MSU Geology professor Warren Wood.

Five hundred wells would end up using more than four billion gallons of Michigan water. Once the water is contaminated it can never be re-used.

"I don't want to take anything out of the economy, but no ones going to go visit a place that has polluted water," said Schor.

Republicans worry that the Democrats might be asking for too much.

"Over regulation is a concern for us because of what it means for job providers," said Republican Press Secretary Ari Adler.

But they're going to try to work something out.

"We're going to work with the Democrats if they are willing to work with us. But they have to come to us to work in a bi-partisan manner."

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