Environmental concerns over a method of underground oil and gas extraction have major implications for Northeast Michigan and its water tables.
The method, known as fracking, involves pumping a pressurized mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground to force oil and gas in the rock layers to flow more easily to the surface.
Controversy over fracking deals with the chemicals used that are part of the mixture, and whether those chemicals ultimately can harm water aquifers and wells. Many chemicals that are in use are ones that are closely regulated and monitored.
It is a legitimate concern that needs closely scrutinized.
Fracking isn't necessarily new in Michigan, but until now it has been practiced in relatively short distances underground. Today, with new technology, fracking is occurring deeper and deeper below the earth's surface, and, ultimately, closer to groundwater sources.
Thursday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for the first time, went public and blamed fracking for groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyo. However, EPA officials cautioned that the geological characteristics of rock in Pavillion, and the type of fracking that was being practiced in that region, are different than geology in, and methods used, elsewhere in the country.
Still, it is a sobering warning that nature is fragile and not invincible.
And, because of that, all of us need to pay close attention to fracking issues here in Michigan.