By James Peters and John Simaz
The Dec. 15 forum from the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council stating that hydraulic fracturing is such a threat that it should be banned “immediately, everywhere,” was purely an attempt to cause alarm and anxiety. The facts, however, present a different picture.
The NMEAC authors state that they have “concluded” hydraulic fracturing should be banned. On what research have they come to this conclusion? Watching Gasland and listening to the Sierra Club may lead one to believe we should abandon our efforts to develop oil and gas in the United States and hope everything works out. Meanwhile, in the real world, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, independent experts, and officials within the Obama administration have all affirmed the safety and importance of hydraulic fracturing.
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of Interior, which oversees oil and gas development on federal lands, has said, “fracking has been done safely for decades,” adding there is “no doubt that this essential tool will be used for decades to come.”
NMEAC admits that all methods of mining cause damage to the environment. Indeed, the same can be said for any human activity. Drive anywhere in Michigan and you will see effects on the environment. Hotels, schools, hospitals, small businesses, and factories all have an effect. As these developments take place, though, regulatory agencies adjust their rules to monitor the effects on the environment, balancing the need to protect our State’s natural resources with the need for human progress.
For example, Michigan regulators just restricted leases in the Au Sable River Holy Waters to non-development use only, recognizing the uniqueness of the area. Michigan DEQ recently adopted a new suite of rules on oil and gas development, too. And yet NMEAC claims these sorts of regulations only push us further away from a solution? What, exactly, do they envision?
The authors also claim that the industry has “devised to deceive” us into believing that the supply of fossil fuels is inexhaustible. Where do they get proof of this claim? Do they really believe that industry invests billions of dollars into technological advances and environmental efficiencies as part of some nefarious deception? Tens of thousands of men and women across Michigan have jobs from oil and gas development. They’re providing for their families and producing much-needed energy, not conspiring against their neighbors.
Since shale development began in earnest, we’ve reached some major milestones: our country has reduced CO2 emissions to their lowest level in 20 years. We now produce more oil than we import, reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy. Manufacturing is coming back to the United States, thanks to affordable and abundant natural gas supplies. Abundant resources are good for Michigan and the whole country.
Anti-fracking activists cannot rebut the sea of facts that contradict their worldview. So instead of acknowledging they’re wrong, they try to deceive the public with straw men arguments.
About the authors: James Peters holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University. He has over 32 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry in multiple geological basins across North America. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Michigan Oil and Gas Association. He is Operations Manager for NorthStar Energy of Traverse City. John Simaz was a teacher in the public schools for 30 years and is now the Michigan representative for Energy in Depth.
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