HARRISVILLE - Environmental activist Patty Thomas was hoping to retire when she moved to Northeast Michigan. But when she learned that fracking was taking place in the state, she became concerned. At issue is horizontal fracking, she said.
"My husband's family has been coming to Lake Huron since the 1930s and I am really concerned that unless the state takes action, we will end up with polluted water and an economy that is in a further state of disaster," she said. "We knew there were problems in Ohio, and I was actually a founding member of CLEAN Citizens Lobby for Environmental Action Now.".
Her concerns grew even more when she heard from friends that an Ohio wastewater well for fracking fluids had been responsible for a magnitude 4.0 earthquake. The water cannot be reused because of the chemicals it contains.
The process begins when a hole is drilled vertically into the ground, she said. Then additional holes are drilled horizontally. Millions of gallons of water and chemicals are injected under pressure into the horizontal holes to break up the shale bed and send natural gas to the surface.
As a Harrisville resident, Thomas formed an alliance with LuAnne Kozma, statewide coordinator for www.letsbanfracking.org. The group is training community volunteers to circulate petitions in compliance with state regulations. The goal is to get a fracking ban on the November 2014 ballot. The group also wants to revise the language of the state law to say that protection of Michigan's health and water resources must come first before oil and gas can be mined, she said.
The organization has until Oct. 1 to gather 258,000 signatures statewide if the proposal is to be forwarded on to the state legislature.
"It's a new issue here," Thomas said. "We've had vertical fracking, but horizontal fracking has been a disaster in North Dakota."
In January, Michigan State University Extension farm management educator Curtis Talley Jr., and Department of Environmental Quality geologist David Lawrence met with property owners at the Hillman Community Center to educate them about oil and gas leases. They said vertical fracking has been used in Michigan since 1952 and more than 12,000 wells in the state have been completed, including wells in Alpena and Montmorency counties. Nearly all of them are tapping Antrim shale gases.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.