Consumer Group Speaks Out Against Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

Chicago, IL
– In case you missed it, more environmentalists are gunning to ban hydraulic fracturing.  The Michigan State Board of Canvassers recently approved a six-month period of signature gathering for a petition by a radical environmental group that wants to ban all hydraulic fracturing (HF) in Michigan.

“With Michigan’s unemployment exceeding the national average over the past 10 years, the state cannot afford to eliminate potential economic development and job creation opportunities that increased energy production would create,” said Consumer Energy Alliance Midwest Executive Director Ryan Scott.

“Development of natural resources is creating thousands of jobs, tax revenue and economic growth in other states across the country, and it will likely continue. A ban on hydraulic fracturing in Michigan would result in an export of more jobs to other states and eliminate any hope of turning around the state’s economy,” said Scott.

Environmental groups in Michigan who failed to gather enough petition signatures to place a ban on hydraulic fracturing on the 2012 ballot have a clear objective: stop the development of all fossil fuels, no matter the cost and no matter the facts. Their main argument is that hydraulic fracturing threatens drinking water.

However, they would rather that the public did not know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a study assessing the potential for contamination of Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW) due to the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids. The study concluded that hydraulic fracturing posed little or no threat to drinking water. Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said her agency has found no confirmed cases or evidence of contaminated drinking water linked to fracturing fluids.

Moreover, fracking has been conducted safely in Michigan on over 12,000 wells over the past 60 years. More recently the practice resulted in mineral lease sales of more than $178 million at the state mineral lease auction in May, 2010, the most lucrative mineral sale in Michigan history. As fracking in Michigan and around the country is on the rise, do the anti-development groups really think that after a 60 year track record, we need to ban the practice now?

Public opinion in other states where HF is booming is solidly in favor of the industry. A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research asked residents of Washington County, Penn., an area 25 miles south of Pittsburgh where there are about 600 gas wells in operation developing the Marcellus Shale, about their perceptions of HF drilling. Of those surveyed, only 10 percent were strongly opposed to drilling, more than 76 percent said drilling offered significant or moderate economic opportunities, and nearly 32 percent had a family member who had signed a lease with a gas drilling company.

With those facts as a foundation, CEA believes Michigan has the opportunity to further develop the Antrim and Collingwood Shale. As in other states this kind of development can help the state diversify its economy and create much needed jobs for Michigan citizens who have experienced the worst of the national economic slowdown.

The development of natural gas resources will also spur additional economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector which accounts for 21% of Michigan’s GDP and creates nearly half a million jobs. By providing less expensive sources of energy shale development can greatly improve the Michigan economy. For the state that brought the country the assembly line, Michigan has an opportunity to increase its competitiveness by embracing a new, safely developed source of energy to run manufacturing plants and power the economy.