Is Michigan’s water supply worth protecting?
An annarbor.com article reported “State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, joined other Democrats in Lansing Monday in urging House Republicans to take action to protect Michigan waters from fracking. ‘Michigan’s
esteemed Pure Michigan legacy could be severely damaged if our state fails to adequately address the dangers of the fracking industry,’ Irwin said in a statement.”
Hydraulic fracking is a controversial topic for a couple of reasons. One, the chemicals used in the fracking process to break up the rock are proprietary, and the companies using them don’t feel like disclosing what chemicals they’re using. Another issue, and the article mentions it, is the vast amounts of water needed to break up the rock to get the resources.
Rep. Irwin is supporting a state bill that would protect against these issues. The bill’s proposals include pausing fracking in the state until its risks are more thoroughly researched, making states comply with local water withdrawal regulations by closing a legal loophole, and disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process.
It also proposes “the departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, with input from the public, to undertake a comprehensive study of the public health, environmental and natural resource impacts associated with the extraction of natural gas from shale formations in the state using hydraulic fracturing,” and establishing “a presumption of liability for a fracking operation if chemicals used in that operation are found in nearby groundwater.”
I see no problem with that bill, except it will be met with much resistance. Representative Rick Olson, R-York Township, has a problem with it. He says the bill will prevent job growth in the state from fracking, since a permit to allow fracking won’t be available until 2015, he said.
The problem isn’t job creation. If fracking is dangerous and companies start going at it without regard to the water supply, then the state’s worse off than before. Now we’d have jobs and a ruined ecology no one wants to be around. People are fleeing the state to find greener pastures; turning those pastures brown and yellow is not going to help.
If you’re going to do something you may as well do it right. Besides, research and disclosure will benefit other states looking at fracking for job creation and resource access. The precedent set in Michigan could benefit the entire country, making our state a forerunner in fracking regulation and safety. If fracking becomes safer as a result of this bill, all the better.
Michigan can be a forerunner in fracking safety and regulation, paving the way for the industry to be a safe and reliable job creator and resource gatherer. Or it could be reduced to a toxic dump where nothing grows or lives. Both of these roads lie before the Michigan government. Some say we need the jobs more then we need the regulation and restriction.
Some say we need the regulation more than the jobs. Others say we must protect our water supply from unsafe chemicals and industries. In the long term, the proposed bill and its ability to protect our water are far more important in the long term then any short-term benefits that would come from fracking without the bill in place. Michigan is not desperate enough to endanger our water or our environment, and we never will be.