The 105th District Michigan State Representative Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) recently wrote the following opinion column concerning hydraulic fracturing in Michigan.
State Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, was recently selected by Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter, to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for the 2015-2016 biennium.
By Triston Cole
Recently, at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) annual meeting, a panel took place regarding the practice of Hydraulic Fracturing and called for more regulations to avoid what they describe as a “race to the bottom.”
Hydraulic Fracturing, a process that has been safely in use for over 60 years in Michigan without major incident, involves an operator that pumps a mixture of water, sand and a small amount of chemicals into an oil or gas formation deep underground and applies pressure.
The pressure fractures rock layers, releasing oil or gas reserves.
The sand holds the fractures open to continue allowing the oil or gas to flow into the well.
Innovative advancements in technology have led to the consolidation of gas wells onto one small pad site thereby drastically reducing the surface footprint, number of access roads, and pipelines needed to harness the valuable energy resource.
Hydraulic Fracturing allows residents to enjoy some of the most cost-effective energy supplies in the country while also decreasing our reliance on coal-burning power plants, many of which will soon be taken offline thanks to the same federal regulations this panel of so-called experts wants to modify.
The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has a sterling record of environmental protection against oil and gas operations, and most of the country consider Michigan’s rules and regulations to be some of the most stringent in the entire nation.
“Stronger federal legislation” is simply not needed in Michigan’s case.
While Michigan is blessed with vast water resources, we have a responsibility to use them wisely. Michigan’s oil and natural gas producers make conservation a priority.
Almost every industry uses water and, like every other industry, our local oil and gas businesses ensure water use is proportionate to the amount readily available, so as to protect the environment and other water needs.
An oil or natural gas operator intending to use a large volume of water (defined as 100,000 gallons or more per day over a 30 day period) is required to use the state’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool to assure the water withdrawal will be safe. If the tool indicates a potential adverse impact, Michigan regulatory officials conduct a site-specific investigation and can require the operator to obtain water from other sources or to move the proposed water well. Approvals are not given if a proposed withdrawal is determined to negatively affect resources.
In fact, the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) of the U.S. federal government—the same federal government these folks would like to see further regulate the industry—recently came to the conclusion that after a four-year study hydraulic fracturing is being carried out safely by industry and regulated by states and isn’t having “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.”
Finally, there have not ever been reported cases of illness or other such effects of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan. Independent operators and the DEQ maintain the strictest personal and environmental safety on all operations and there has yet to be a report of serious illness on an individual as a result of such activities.
Not only does Michigan’s oil and gas industry keep the lights and heat on in our homes and businesses and employ our residents, but in 2016 it also funded more than 50 percent of the Michigan State Parks budget.
Michigan’s oil and gas industry, through both the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which has given away over $1 billion to local communities through grants aimed exclusively at parks and recreation, as well as the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund truly takes care of the amazing parks and recreation areas around our beautiful state and will continue to do so for many years.