Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 5, 2014

Forum: Fracturing facts present different picture

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?

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