TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan may have large natural gas reserves deep underground, but it will likely be years before they would be developed on a large scale, giving policymakers time to deal with the environmental and public health concerns associated with the extraction method known as fracking, according to a study released Thursday.
The University of Michigan analysis found that the industry has had a good safety record over the past six decades in extracting gas from shallow rock. More recently, companies have begun exploring shale formations more than 2 miles down, which raises questions about potential damage to water and air quality, and degradation of wildlife habitat, the researchers said.
But it said for now, low prices for gas and high costs of retrieving it from deep rock offer little incentive for substantial development.
“While exploration for oil and gas is, almost by definition, an expensive hit-or-miss process ... Michigan now seems to be unlikely territory for a major success,” the study said.
The university’s assessment has been awaited by government officials, the industry and advocacy groups.