Committee to Ban Fracking protests in Lansing

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People from around the state in the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan organized a protest in Lansing on October 29 while the Michigan DNR auctioned off more acres of mineral rights to the frackers.

Anti-Fracking Group Protests Sale of Oil and Gas Rights on State-Owned Land

TV 10 covered the event here.

The Committee is working on a ballot initiative campaign to ban fracking and frack wastes and could use your donation today! Go here to donate.

And you can keep up with the ballot initiative on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/CommitteeToBanFrackingInMichigan

Marathon Oil may have purchased most of the auction’s acreage

From Michigan Oil and Gas News, reporting on the auction:

  • “Bidders believed to be representing Marathon Oil Co. dominated the Oct. 29, 2014 auction sale of state of Michigan-owned minerals at the Lansing Center, picking up more than 148,000 of the 152,629.16 acres successfully bid.”
  • “All but 164 of the parcels successfully bid were at the minimum $10 per acre, which helped keep the overall average bid per acre at only $17.15 per acre.”
  • “The news that Marathon Oil Co. — founded in 1887 as the Ohio Oil Co. — had recently completed a transaction in which it acquired Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.’s Michigan asset marks the return of one of the state’s oldest and most storied producer/operator after an absence of 15 years.”

Below is the Committee’s press release for more information about the ballot initiative:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2014
Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan

(231) 944-8750 luanne@letsbanfracking.org

Ballot initiative to ban fracking supporters to protest in Lansing
Charlevoix, Michigan – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), will gather outside the Lansing Center (in downtown Lansing) tomorrow, October 29, to protest the Michigan DNR’s twice-annual auction of state-owned mineral rights. The event takes place Wednesday from 7:00 am to noon. The auction begins at 9:00 am.
The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is a ballot question committee that collected over 70,000 signatures in 2013 for a statewide ban on fracking and frack wastes. The Committee’s proposal is not on this November’s ballot. The group is working on placing it on the next statewide ballot in 2016.
“The State’s role in creating more fracking starts with the DNR auction of mineral rights,” said LuAnne Kozma, the Committee’s campaign director. “In addition to receiving royalties from the gas and oil industry for leasing mineral rights, the State also receives income from the production of oil and gas,[1] and is required by state law to ‘foster the development of the industry along the most favorable conditions,’[2] part of the current law our ballot initiative will overturn along with a ban on fracking and frack wastes.”
The group cites the continued push by the frack industry, supported by the State, in approving radioactive frack sludge from other states at a waste facility in Van Buren
Township in Wayne County,[3] the start of new pipelines that will bring fracked gas through the state,[4] and new natural gas plants proposed in Marquette and Gaylord. The fracking giant Encana recently sold its mineral rights to energy giant Marathon.[5]

“Nearly every day, Michiganders are facing a new threat from the frack industry as the State government helps industry turn our beautiful state into Gasland, whether it’s from radioactive frack waste or new natural gas plants. All of this industrialization is going to exacerbate climate change and health impacts,” said Kozma.
The DNR will auction off more state-owned mineral rights on thousands of acres in the following counties: Arenac, Clare, Crawford, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Isabella, Kalkaska, Manistee, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Oceana, Osceola, Presque Isle, and Roscommon.

Public notice about the auction here:http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/ProposedPubNotice_464073_7.pdf

Michigan DNR site about the auction here:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10368_11800-169044–,00.html

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s brochure here:

http://www.letsbanfracking.org/images/CBFM%20_2014_brochure_with%20links_FINAL.pdf

# # #
[1] MCL 205.303

[2] MCL 324.61502

[3] Series of articles at www.banmichiganfracking.org: http://banmichiganfracking.org/?p=2455

[4] Detroit Free Press, “Rival Projects Compete for OK to Build Gas Pipelines,” October 12, 2014. http://www.freep.com/story/money/business/columnists/tom-walsh/2014/10/12/tom-walsh-dueling-pipelines/17046379/

[5] Midland Daily News, “Fracking Michigan, Here We Go Again,” October 13, 2014. http://www.ourmidland.com/opinion/editorials/fracking-michigan—-here-we-go-again/article_69726cb9-a734-5afd-90f2-3c60f424263c.html

Radioactive frack sludge moved from Pennsylvania to who knows where

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by LuAnne Kozma

Word is just in from people on the ground in Pennsylvania that the 36 tons of radioactive frack sludge, that we reported on in August (here and here) and September, were moved yesterday from the impoundment site in Washington County where they have been stored in limbo for many months.

Radioactive frack sludge in Washington County, held for months at a Range Resource waste impoundment site, is now off the site and gone to who knows where. Submitted photo.

The material was approved by the Michigan DEQ for shipment to Michigan last August to Michigan/Wayne Disposal, a private processing and landfill facility in Van Buren Township near Belleville. After our reporting and subsequent publicity in the Detroit Free Press, the company, now owned by frack waste giant US Ecology, agreed to temporarily halt further shipments of radioactive waste pending a review of procedures by a governor-appointed TENORM panel. Theoretically, the approval has still been granted and it wouldn’t be illegal for it to be brought to the Michigan facility, just perhaps not politically acceptable.

According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the shipment is likely not coming here to Michigan, due to the ongoing voluntary action by US Ecology. Ken Yale, who I spoke to yesterday, said he didn’t think that the company would risk taking the 36 tons from PA during their self-imposed moratorium when they are taking in over 400,000 tons per year of hazardous wastes.

Today I contacted Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection for some answers. As of 4:00 pm they have have not called back with a reply as to where the waste is going, after I spoke with someone in the Communications department.

Where the wastes are going, however, is anyone’s guess.

In other news, the application or request by US Ecology to take in waste at higher radiation levels at the Van Buren County Wayne Disposal Facility has been withdrawn, according to DEQ’s Ken Yale. Ban Michigan Fracking paid for a copy of that application or proposal through a Freedom of Information Act request and we are still awaiting its arrival.

 

No public representative on Michigan radioactive frack waste TENORM panel

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Meetings in Secret

Remember the panel the Governor set up to review the state’s disposal procedures on radioactive frack waste? Well, it’s meeting already, but meetings are not open to the public.

Apparently the panel members were named and the panel got started without fanfare, and without the public being allowed to attend its first meeting on September 22.

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan members protest outside frack waste facility near Belleville, August 2014.

Ken Yale, the head of the DEQ’s Radiological division, who is also on the panel, told me yesterday that because they are a “pre-deliberative body” the state is not required to hold public meetings in accordance with the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

The Governor’s TENORM waste panel has a former DEQ radiology employee as representing “the public” 

And there’s another blow to transparency and public participation. One panel member was to represent the DEQ–and that’s Ken Yale himself. Another member was to represent the public. According to this September 22 press release by the DEQ, it lists Dave Minnaar, of Middleville, as the person “representing the public.”

Minnaar isn’t from the affected communities near frack waste sites, and he’s not simply someone from “the public.” In fact, he’s a former DEQ employee. Minnaar was one of the contributing specialists to the report An Assessment of the Disposal of Petroleum Industry NORM in Nonhazardous Landfills, which brought us the disposal standards the State is now using, along with his co-worker Bob Skwronek, who today makes the approvals on the radioactive wastes coming in to Michigan.

In this Argus-Press news article from January 1990, Blanchard says Michigan can handle nuke waste, Minnaar is quoted as the deputy chief of radiological health for the state Department of Health, saying that Low Level Radioactive Waste storage facilities (being proposed back then) pose no threat to public health. The group that fought the Low Level Radioactive Waste site during those years, Don’t Waste Michigan is also quoted in the story. I contacted an activist involved in that fight yesterday and he remembers Minnaar as one of the biggest salesman for the nuke dump.

Minnaar was one of the key DEQ employees who handled the bizarre incident in 1994-95 of the “radioactive Boy Scout,” a Detroit area teenager who assembled and worked with highly radioactive materials in his backyard. In the clean-up, the most radioactive materials, including radium and thorium, were thrown away into the household refuse (and into a local landfill) by his parents before the DEQ had the chance to haul away a bunch of barrels out west for disposal.

Expertise aside, as a former DEQ employee responsible for overseeing the very disposal methods the state uses, this appointment is not the same as having someone “from the public” on the panel.

But as DEQ spokesperson Brad Wurfel has already declared, this panel’s recommendations are a forgone conclusion anyway: “the review panel will conclude that existing Michigan standards are appropriate.” Wurfel’s admission that this is a charade is quite bald.

 

After the huge climate march

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The People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday September 21 was seen by many as a turning point for the climate movement. It definitely was a start. Four hundred thousand people walked, an amazing number, ten times the size of the previous climate march in Washington in February 2013.

Organizers say there were 1574 participating organizations, 630,000 social media posts, and 5200 articles written.  Around the world 2646 allied events took place in 162 countries.

The organizers’ video features some good footage, however, optimistically ending with Obama speaking to the UN saying leaders “have to answer the call” (yet… the president continues an all-of-the-above-energy policy and is pushing fracking and natural gas across the US and globally.)

The New York Times featured the worldwide events the next day on the front page, noting that this summer “was the hottest on record for the globe, and that 2014 was on track to break the record for the hottest year, set in 2010.” (Yet one week later on September 27, an activist noted the same paper did not have a single article on #climate).

The two-mile-long march was led by indigenous people and frontline communities — those most immediately impacted by climate change.  The line stepped off from Broadway and Columbus Circle at 11:30 am.

An hour and a half later, we in the anti-frack contingent a mile to the north on Central Park West waited for the backward sweep of the starting signal to reach us.  At that moment, a 2-minute lull of eerie silence fell upon the procession — signaled in advance by organizers’ text messages.

Then followed an amazing sound.  At first it was like like a careening jet airplane, faint but scary.  It increased exponentially, becoming human as it surged toward us through the crowd, an overwhelming wave of voices, erupting finally around us, in a massive and sustained ecstatic communal roar. Soon we were on our way.

Photo by Ban Michigan Fracking

The crowd featured majestic banners, pageantry, diversity, young people of color, political and diplomatic officials, victims of superstorm Sandy, labor unions, grassroots enviro groups, Big Greens, celebrities, socialists, anarchists, homeless, and everyone else. There was a remarkable humanitarian and internationalist spirit.

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan volunteers walk with film maker Josh Fox. Photo by L. Kozma

 

Activists in the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan were among 400 people from Michigan at the march, including 322 that came in seven buses and 40 in four vans.

Converging for climate with other grassroots activists

On Friday and Saturday before the march, the Global Climate Convergence (endorsed by Ban Michigan Fracking), a two-day conference organized by grassroots activists held in lower Manhattan, offered over 100 workshops and two plenaries, attended by 2500 people, including a session on “Frack Bans with Teeth” by BMF’s LuAnne Kozma on the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s ballot initiative.

In contrast to the goals of the March, the Climate Convergence Conference called for people, planet, and peace over profit.  More particularly:  full employment, 100% clean renewable energy, universal free healthcare and education, securing the global food supply, economic democracy, demilitarization, and end to mass incarceration and deportations, political democracy, civil liberties, and support for peace, human rights, and rights of Mother Earth.

At #FloodWallStreet, photo by LuAnne Kozma.

 

On Monday, also in contrast to the March, over 2000 protesters acted to #FloodWallStreet to disrupt business as usual and highlight the financial sector’s role in climate change. Ban Michigan Fracking also took part in this action. There were over 100 arrests, including an activist in a polar bear outfit (Frostpaw by Center for Biological Diversity), who was handcuffed and arrested. One scene from #FloodWallStreet (video by Ban Michigan Fracking. Click to see video): IMG_1550 Mic check

Going Beyond Extreme Energy

Similar marches continue, such as http://climatemarch.org. Grassroots groups at Converge for Climate called for System Change, Not Climate change. Popular Resistance calls for larger and escalated action on climate change, starting with a week of action in Washington DC on November 1-7 for Beyond Extreme Energy. A call to retire fossil fuels, this action calls on the government “to drop its ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. Extreme energy extraction–fracking, tar sands, deep ocean drilling, Arctic drilling, mountaintop removal — of the last fossil fuels condemns us to ravaged landscapes, poisoned water, and weather convulsions.”

Ban Michigan Fracking’s purpose is to educate and advocate so that we stop fostering fossil fuels and in particular, stop the frack industry here as part of the overall movement to ban the frack industry globally.

A cultural shift is needed, too. Most people are dubious of corporations and of government, the main creators of the climate problem in the first place.  But equally, most people don’t have a clear political vision, and have no objection to the political elite and corporate executives who joined the march.

Our country has a conservative ideology and political system, and a culture of acquisitive individualism.  To save the planet and ourselves, the majority will have to rise against the few whose commitment is to money and power.  Only such a transformation will allow the technical solutions to flower.

We have a world to win.

CH4 and CO2 models getting tossed around at the People's Climate March.

Update on radioactive frack wastes in Michigan

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Numerous trucks went in and out of the Michigan Disposal facility in Belleville when we picketed for 9 hours on August 21. Several of the loads were these "roll off containers" similar to the ones used for radioactive frack sludge. Photo by LuAnne Kozma.

by LuAnne Kozma

Election-year politics seems to have intervened temporarily with the radioactive frack wastes from Washington County, Pennsylvania (where the wastes remain).  Governor Rick Snyder announced on August 25 that he is creating a panel to “review disposal standards” of the state’s radioactive waste. Additionally the company taking in the radioactive materials from Pennsylvania said it would temporarily suspend additional shipments until the panel’s review is complete.

MLive noted Michigan DEQ spokesperson Brad Wurfel’s prediction that “the review panel will conclude that existing Michigan standards are appropriate.” Wurfel’s admission that this is a charade is quite bald.

For his part, Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, who never mentions fracking whatsoever, opportunistically stated on his website that only out-of-state radioactive waste is his issue: “We can’t allow Michigan to be a dumping ground for radioactive waste that other states won’t allow in their own landfills.” Which is partly good, and of course it’s politically correct to not like radioactive waste, except that he doesn’t cover radioactive frack waste created locally.

Tonight in Van Buren Township: presentation by Wayne Disposal to calm people’s fears about the radioactive wastes in their backyards

The Belleville Independent reports that tonight, September 2, the director of the landfill, Wayne Disposal, will make a presentation at the Van Buren Township meeting and answer questions.  The public has to put the questions on cards. Township supervisor Linda Combs told the newspaper radioactive shipments from frack wastes were announced October 1, 2014 after public hearings and EPA approval. The local paper reported earlier this year that the landfill’s liner had ripped. In two articles about the torn liner, dated January 2  and February 7, it reported that Wayne Disposal does not take in radioactive waste.

What’s in radioactive frack sludge, anyway?

Here’s one study of the stuff:

Rich AL and Crosby EC, “Analysis of reserve pit sludge from unconventional natural gas hydraulic fracturing and drilling operations for the presence of technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM),” New Solut. 2013;23(1):117-35. doi: 10.2190/NS.23.1.h.

Michigan frackers are producing frack wastes and it’s not tested for radioactivity

Back in 2011 we tried to get more information from the Michigan DEQ regarding the frack wastes that were being created by Michigan’s impending frack industry. We were told in a series of emails from MDEQ’s Paul Jankowski that “there are no rules requiring an oil/gas field waste disposal well to test for radioactivity.”  In this series of questions, we got the following answers:

BMF: Does this mean there is no rule requiring disposal well operators to test material for radioactivity before disposing of it into the well?

Jankowski: Correct.

BMF: And is there also no rule requiring that gas wells test flowback before sending it to a disposal well?

Jankowski: Correct.

On Michigan drilling permits, the operator states if there is a “reserve pit” and whether the materials will be “solidified on site.”   If there is a landfill where the materials are to be brought, the landfill is sometimes named.

For reference: Michigan Disposal Inc’s website, with permits

Media articles about the radioactive frack sludge:

Matheny, Keith, “Michigan landfill operator suspends receipt of low-level radioactive waste,” Detroit Free Press, August 25, 2014.

Ortzman, Rosemary, “Wayne Disposal official to bring information to Sept 2 VBT board meeting,” Belleville Independent, August 28, 2014.

Smith, Heather, “Frackers are sending sludge to the mitten state,” Grist, August 19, 2014.

 

 

 

 

Michigan reacts, and the documents behind the radioactive frack sludge waste saga

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by LuAnne Kozma, Ban Michigan Fracking

Six days after our story was posted, alerting the public about the radioactive sludge heading to Michigan, the Detroit Free Press blasted their own story, “Michigan Takes in Radioactive Sludge” on the front page on August 19, causing a statewide wake-up call.

House and senate democrats sent out emails about the issue with links to the article, asking for money for the upcoming elections, and a Republican state senator got press saying he’d introduce a bill to make “the same tough standards of other states” like Ohio. (More on that in a future post. Ohio did not make tougher standards, they took drill cuttings out of the definition of TENORM!)

Today’s Detroit Free Press ran this cartoon by cartoonist Mike Thompson, “Radioactive Sludge in Your Backyard”:  http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014308230020

And volunteers with Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, Ban Michigan Fracking and others joined in a demonstration outside the facility on Thursday, Aug 21 for nine hours to bring attention to the pending shipment.

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan at the radioactive frack waste disposal site in Belleville, Michigan, August 21, 2014.

Ballot initiative would ban this waste, statewide

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan‘s ballot initiative would put an end to frack wastes being processed, disposed, or stored in the state. The Committee’s volunteers have been trying to ban frack wastes for the past two years. This year the Committee is collecting contributions and volunteers in order to obtain signatures next year for placing on the ballot in 2016. See the Committee’s new 4-page brochure detailing the many harms of fracking and how ballot initiative works.

In the meantime, a radioactive liner from Pennsylvania was also approved by DEQ for processing and disposal in Michigan.

Documents obtained by Ban Michigan Fracking on August 19 through a Freedom of Information Act request filed last week, show that a radioactive liner was approved on August 18 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for processing and disposal at the same Belleville waste facility, in addition to the two roll-out containers of radioactive TENORM frack sludge from Washington County. Ban Michigan Fracking obtained six email exchanges between the Michigan DEQ and the EQ/US Ecology disposal facility (also called Michigan Disposal Inc and Wayne Disposal Inc, owned by EQ and recently purchased by US Ecology) in Michigan requesting to process and dispose of the Pennsylvania frack waste, the DEQ giving approval, and several lab reports sampling the radioactive materials.

Posted at the bottom of this article are the documents we obtained from the DEQ.

The liner is identified as coming from “the MCC site” and that the “Range Resource MCC site approvals we just completed generated a box of liner.” Other emails and attached lab reports are for samples taken for “MCC Partners.”

On the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website oil and gas searchable database called “eFacts,” a search turned up the following five well sites and one pipeline with the name “MCC Partners” which appear to share the same address as Range Resources.

BURKETT WELLS TO MCC PARTNERS PIPELINE (770971)Jefferson Township, Washington Active Water Planning and Conservation
MCC PARTNERS (WEST) UNIT 10H (772460)
3000 TOWN CENTER BLVD
CANONSBURG, PA  15317
Jefferson Township, Washington
Active Oil & Gas
MCC PARTNERS (WEST) UNIT 10H (772460)
3000 TOWN CENTER BLVD
CANONSBURG, PA  15317-5839
Jefferson Township, Washington
Active Oil & Gas
MCC PARTNERS (WEST) UNIT 11H (772461)
3000 TOWN CENTER BLVD
CANONSBURG, PA  15317
Jefferson Township, Washington
Active Oil & Gas
MCC PARTNERS (WEST) UNIT 7H (770612)
3000 TOWN CENTER BLVD
CANONSBURG, PA  15317
Jefferson Township, Washington
Active Oil & Gas
MCC PARTNERS (WEST) UNIT 8H (773836)
3000 TOWN CENTER BLVD
CANONSBURG, PA  15317
Jefferson Township, Washington

A map of the 808 frack sites in Washington County, Pennsylvania can be found here.

In an email to the Michigan DEQ on August 14 requesting the permission to process the liner, a Michigan Disposal Inc./US Ecology company representative in Belleville, Sylwia Chrostowski, states “MDI  [Michigan Disposal Inc.] proposes to manage the liner in its treatment tanks the same way that MDI has managed the TENORM sludge.” She then goes on to describe the dilution or “downblending” process they would employ, breaking the material up into smaller portions, mixing it with other materials to make the concentration of each portion less radioactive. First the pit liner would be cut up into 4 ft x 4 ft sheets. “If the liner tears and cannot be transferred in whole 4′ x 4′ sheets” the company’s back up plan is to gather up the liner using an excavator (bulldozer) and load it into a blending tank at Michigan Disposal Inc. one bucketful at a time.

After downblending, the material would be disposed at the company’s sister disposal site at the same location called Wayne Disposal Inc. Chrostowski states the “size of the liner makes it difficult to sample.” The level of Radium 226 in the liner was measured at 901 pCi/g. The limit for putting into Michigan landfills is 50 pCi/g, for a given container. Materials identified as coming from Range’s Cowden drill pads of “flowback solids” was measured at 570 pCi/g. The 901 pCi/g and 570 pCi/g loads will be traveling on Michigan highways to Belleville.

We don’t know yet how big this liner box is, or where it is currently located. To the best of our knowledge, the two roll-off containers containing the radioactive sludge are still in Pennsylvania on the Carter frack waste impoundment. Those approvals and requests for processing are also indicated in the email exchanges. The radioactive sludge is from a drilling site or sites by the name of Cowden.

The shipment(s) from Pennsylvania, the liner with all of its radioactive components, and the TENORM radioactive sludge still will land in the landfill facility in Belleville in its entirety when all is said and done. It will just be dismembered into smaller pieces mixed in with other stuff.

Protest at the frack waste facility in Belleville and a greeting by the company’s top brass

Soon after Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan arrived at the protest site, a staffer named Joe Weismann, in a blue US Ecology logo shirt, drove out of the facility to talk to us.  He explained that they “take in hazardous material and make it non-hazardous” and that the facility is permitted by both the EPA and the MDEQ. He would not tell us when the truck shipment would arrive because the company keeps information about their clients private. He did not allow us to record him, nor did he have a card or give his contact information. Weismann, as it turns out, was not a security guard. He is vice president of radiological and field services at US Ecology, headquartered in Idaho, their top radiation guy.

How DEQ approves these shipments

DEQ’s Radiological Division chief, Ken Yale, explained in an email on Aug 19: “As background information on how the approval process works:  the Radiological Protection Section (RPS) of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) typically gets an email from Wayne/Michigan Disposal that details a particular shipment they would like to accept for down blending. To show the concentration of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) in the proposed shipment, they include a lab report from an independent lab. If the concentration of TENORM exceeds 50 picocuries/gram radium-226, Wayne/Michigan Disposal request permission to mix the material with inert material until the concentration is below 50 picocuries/gram radium-226. The RPS reviews the lab report and the blending calculations to provide an independent analysis. Once we are satisfied the analysis and calculations are acceptable, we will send an email indicating our approval of the blending process. Once the material is mixed to a concentration below 50 picocuries/gram radium-226, it is below the acceptance limit for any Michigan landfill, but it is placed in Wayne Disposal which is a hazardous waste landfill.”

Michigan DEQ’s Yale said in a phone call the liner is from a container of some kind, not an impoundment or frack drilling pad. US Ecology’s Joe Wiesmann’s answer at the disposal site during the demonstration was that it is from a frack pit liner and that the company regularly takes in such liners from frack sites, explaining how the liners are portable and re-used.

Connecticut bans frack wastes for 3 years

On August 19 the New Haven Register reported that the governor of Connecticut signed a bill banning for 3 years the storage and handling of frack wastes. The state senate passed it unanimously and the house overwhelmingly. New Jersey legislators similarly passed a bill this summer that governor Chris Christie vetoed. An Asbury Park Press (NJ) editorial today “Lawmakers, show backbone on veto” hopes lawmakers override his veto but are afraid they won’t. The editorial mentions the radioactive frack waste story in Michigan.

We don’t want “regulation” of frack wastes, allowing it under certain conditions. We want it banned outright. Anyone who is against frack waste must also be against the activity that creates it–fracking.

Contents of the Freedom of Information Act Request obtained by Ban Michigan Fracking from the DEQ:

Email 1: “Range Cowden” dated August 5, 2014: Chrostowski to Mich DEQ’s Skowronek, requesting to process wastes with Ra-226 at 570 pCi/g

Email 2: “RE Range Cowden” dated August 7, 2014: Chrostowski to Mich DEQ’s Skowronek asking again for review of request of August 5

Email 3: “MCC Flowback Solids” dated August 8, 2014: Chrostowski to Mich DEQ’s Skowronek asking for approval to blend Marcellus Shale flowback solids, some of which are at 901 pCi/g.

Email 4: “RE Range Cowden” dated August 11, 2014: DEQ’s Skowronek to Chrostowski granting permission to process and dispose of the Range Cowden materials requested on Aug 5.

Email 5: “RE MCC Flowback Solids” dated August 11, 2014: DEQ’s Skowonek to Chrostowski granting permission to process and dispose of the MCC Flowback Solids reqeusted on Aug 8.

Email 6: “RE MCC Partners Liner” dated August 18, 2014: DEQ’s David Asselin to Chrostowski granting permission to process and dispose of the liner, and the original request asking for permission to process the liner.

Lab reports:

Cowden report

MCC Partners report

 

 

 

Radioactive frack waste headed to Michigan from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale

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Update 8/17/14: Michigan DEQ tells us that it approved the application for shipment. We are awaiting word as to when the shipment will occur.
Pennsylvania frack operator Range Resources plans to ship radioactive drilling sludge from Marcellus shale frack operations in southwest Pennsylvania to Michigan, according to a PA news site, the Observer-Reporter. Ban Michigan Fracking contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today and confirmed the shipment is imminent. Pennsylvania DEP spokesman John Poister confirmed that he is just waiting to hear exactly when the shipment will take place, but he expects it to be in a matter of a day or two.

According to the article, “two roll-off boxes holding waste with detectable levels of radiation at a Marcellus Shale impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township will soon be trucked to Michigan for disposal.” (“Drilling Sludge to be shipped to Michigan” observer-reporter.com, August 13, 2014). The township is located in Washington County, just outside of Pittsburgh. DEP’s Poister is quoted as saying the shipment is a “great deal of material” and cannot legally be deposited in Pennsylvania’s landfill.

So where in Michigan is it heading?

Ken Yale, the division chief of the Radiological Protection division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, who we spoke to today, said he wasn’t aware of “any new shipment” and that the likely depository is the Wayne Disposal Inc. site, a hazardous waste facility in Van Buren Township in Wayne County, near the Willow Run airport. Unfortunately for Michigan, it is one of two landfills in the nation that will accept such waste. The second one is in Idaho.

The Wayne Disposal/Michigan Disposal site in Belleville, Michigan that takes radioactive wastes from frack sites for processing and disposal. Photo © Ban Michigan Fracking.

The DEQ staffer in the Radiological Protection Division who makes such decisions, Bob Skowronek, contacted BMF on his day off to let us know he is checking into it with the disposal facility.

The material in question has been in limbo for some months now. After landfills in Pennsylvania rejected the waste, Range Resources tried to “quietly” ship the material to a West Virginia landfill which also rejected the material for its high radioactivity, according to a June report by Desmogblog   (“Loopholes enable industry to evade rules on dumping radioactive fracking waste.”). A May news report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the situation stated that in the first four months of 2014 “nine loads of shale gas drilling waste had been rejected by Pennsylvania landfills because of higher-than-normal radioactivity.” One of the nine shipments is this material at Range Resources’ “Carter impoundment.” Desmogblog reported that the material amounted to 12 tons of radioactive frack wastes.

Yale of the Michigan DEQ said there have been other shipments of similar materials to the Wayne Disposal Inc. site from other states. Skowronek, the DEQ staffer who approves such shipments, explained that there are two facilities in Michigan that process such radioactive materials. One is US Ecology Michigan, which is authorized to take in radioactive materials (above 50 pico curies) and solidify them for shipment to the Idaho facility, without any prior notification to the MDEQ. Apparently this waste is readily coming into Michigan on a regular basis. The other facility is actually a set of facilities, Wayne Disposal Inc, (the landfill site) and Michigan Disposal Inc, which can take in Radium 226-materials above 50 pico curies per gram and process it to dilute it/combine it with other materials to bring down its level, enabling the waste to be disposed of in the Wayne Disposal Inc landfill. (Both Michigan Disposal Inc. and Wayne Disposal Inc. have been purchased by US Ecology).

We will update this story as we learn more information.

Updated 8/13/14 at 11 pm. Updated 8/17/14.
Correction: an earlier version of this story indicated that Mt. Pleasant Township is in Montgomery county. The correct location is Washington County, PA. 

See also:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Two more drilling sites found with Marcellus Shale sludge radioactivity in Washington County: DEP sees no threat.” May 27, 2014. (The comments on this article are also illuminating).

Nuclear Frack Waste Convoys on the website “No Fracking Way”

Freshwater Accountability Project (Ohio)’s report on radioactive frack waste in Ohio, Hydraulic Fracturing Radiological Concerns for Ohio.

An Assessment of the Disposal of Petroleum Industry NORM in NonHazardous Landfills

Pennsylvania’s 2013 Oil and Gas Report

Marcellus Monitor, a blog that has covered some of this story.

New York, Pennsylvania courts uphold township fracking bans; Michigan next?

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Photo credit: Village of Dryden

by Ellis Boal, updated 7/14/04

On June 30 New York state’s highest court held that two rural home-rule towns lying atop the Marcellus shale can ban fracking by zoning.  This, despite a preempting New York statute which says the state oil-gas law

shall supersede all local laws or ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries….

The court in Matter of Wallach v Town of Dryden carefully noted:

The Towns both studied the issue and acted within their home rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently alter and adversely affect the deliberately-cultivated, small-town character of their communities.

Towns in New York are equivalent to townships in Michigan.

HISTORY OF NEW YORK CASE

Five years after a developer began acquiring oil and gas leases in Dryden New York, the town held a public hearing in 2011.  The result was a prohibition on use of land within its borders for oil-gas exploration, extraction, and storage.

The same year the town of Middlefield learned leases had been executed there.  The town board investigated, and decided to zone out oil, gas, and solution mining.  The board reasoned that the area:

is known worldwide for its clean air, clean water, farms, forests, hills, trout streams, scenic viewsheds, historic sites, quaint villages and hamlets, rural lifestyle, recreational activities, sense of history, and history of landscape conservation.

The town board concluded that industrialization, such as hydrofracking, would:

eliminate many of these features [and] irreversibly overwhelm the rural character of the Town.

According to the ruling, New York’s preemption statute governs only the “safety, technical and operational aspects” of oil and gas activities.  The court decided to follow a previous ruling about sand mining which held:

In effect, local laws that purported to regulate the ‘how’ of mining activities and operations were preempted whereas those limiting ‘where’ mining could take place were not….

The court added:

We see no inconsistency between the preservation of local zoning authority and the [state's] policies of preventing “waste” and promoting a “greater ultimate recovery of oil and gas”….

Of great interest, the decision was made without regard for the safety or dangers of the controversial extraction practices that sparked fierce opposition and led to the bans:

These appeals are not about whether hydrofracking is beneficial or detrimental to the economy, environment, or energy needs of New York, and we pass no judgment on its merits.

The 5-2 majority opinion was authored by Judge Victoria Graffeo, viewed generally as liberal.

PENNSYLVANIA DECISION

The decision follows on the heels of a similar decision of the Pennsylvania supreme court last winter in Robinson Township v Pennsylvania, striking down that state’s “Act 13.”

Act 13, put into effect in 2012, allowed wells, pipelines, impoundments, and seismic-testing explosives to take place “of right” in every zoning district, even residential ones.  One section of the law asserted the oil and gas laws “occupy the entire field of regulation, to the exclusion of all local ordinances.”

Six townships and a borough sued.

Four court justices concurred in striking down Act 13, as against three dissenters.  The four did not have unified reasoning.

The 3-justice lead opinion invoked the “public trust” doctrine in the Pennsylvania constitution, which requires all branches of government — including counties and townships — to consider in advance the environmental effect of any proposed action:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

The opinion held Act 13’s preemption provision required local governments instead:

to ignore their obligations under [the constitution] and further direct[ed] municipalities to take affirmative actions to undo existing protections of the environment….

In ringing tones the three-justice opinion added:

[F]ew could seriously dispute how remarkable a revolution is worked by this legislation….  By any responsible account, the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, the people, their children, and future generations and potentially on the public purse, potentially rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction….  Protection of environmental values, in this respect, is a quintessential local issue….

The one concurring justice’s view was that Act 13’s preemption violated constitutional substantive due process.  He wrote:

I believe that in a state as large and diverse as Pennsylvania, meaningful protection of the acknowledged substantive due process right of an adjoining landowner to quiet enjoyment of his real property can only be carried out at the local level. … [T]hese industrial-like operations include blasting of rock and other material, noise from the running of diesel engines, sometimes nonstop for days, traffic from construction vehicles, tankers, and other heavy-duty machinery, the storage of hazardous materials, constant bright lighting at night, and the potential for life- and property-threatening explosions and gas well blowouts.

The bottom line of all four justices is the same:  Townships and boroughs in Pennsylvania are now free to ban fracking.

IMPLICATIONS FOR LOCAL BANS IN MICHIGAN

Legal commentators in 2012 and 2014, writing without benefit of the New York decision, have concluded that prospects for local frack bans in Michigan are nil or dim.

Reporters in the popular media have said the same, except less carefully. MSU Extension mis-stated the key statute in 2012, and the Detroit News misquoted it in 2014.

I disagree.

Michigan’s oil-gas law is called “Part 615 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act” or “NREPA Part 615″ or simply “Part 615.”

Statutes, rules, regulations, parts….The overarching Michigan statute governing the environment is the “Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act” or NREPA. NREPA is divided confusingly into many articles, parts, and sections. In certain of the categories there are divisions, chapters, and subchapters. Some of the sections have subsections and even finer sub-categories.

Oil and gas are dealt with in article III chapter 3, subchapter 2, part 615, often called just “Part 615.” Part 615 has 37 sections and innumerable subsections.

One of the subsections allows the DEQ to “promulgate and enforce rules, issue orders and instructions” for enforcement, and to do anything necessary to “implement” the “subject matter” of Part 615, “whether or not” the subject matter is spelled out in Part 615.

“Rules” (sometimes also called “administrative rules”) are promulgated under Michigan’s Administrative Procedures Act, which requires public hearings and public comment in advance.

The rules are here.

DEQ has announced proposed revisions of the Part 615 rules.

The public hearings for these proposals are set for July 15 and 16 in Gaylord and Lansing. Anyone may attend and speak.

DEQ has other rules for contested case and declaratory ruling hearings. DEQ has proposed to rescind most of these rules. At this writing, a date has not been set for a public hearing.

As noted, the DEQ can also issue “instructions” for enforcing the rules. A listing of all these instructions is here.

In May 2011, two new instructions were issued related to fracking. One is about high volume hydraulic fracturing well completions. The other is about permit application reviews for wells that may be hydraulically fractured.

The term “regulations” has no strict definition in Michigan. Regarding oil and gas, often the term refers colloquially to both Part 615 and the Part 615 rules together.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ or DEQ)

has jurisdiction and authority over the administration and enforcement of [Part 615] and all matters relating to the prevention of waste and to the conservation of oil and gas in this state….

In Michigan and most states, usurpation by the state of power to regulate oil and gas activities is called “preemption.”  (In New York the term is “supersession.”)

Under preemption, a Michigan township or county is precluded from enacting an ordinance if it is in direct conflict with a state statutory scheme; and even if there is no direct conflict it is precluded if the state scheme “occup[ies] the field of regulation.”

Every state’s oil-and-gas law is slightly different.  The New York and Pennsylvania decisions do not bind Michigan courts.  But they will be highly influential, albeit in different ways.

The 3-justice lead opinion in Pennsylvania was authored by the court’s chief justice, viewed generally as conservative.

Even so, he sounded a clarion call, echoing the holding of our own Michigan supreme court in 1974.  The 1974 case held that our legislature would have violated the Michigan constitution had it not enacted NREPA for “protecting natural resources from pollution, impairment, and destruction.”  The court added:

But as the state has grown, and the demand for energy, the public interest has been threatened by casual planning of transmission lines and pipelines through unspoiled countryside.

Michigan’s constitution, unlike Pennsylvania’s, does not explicitly enunciate the public trust doctrine. Our state’s analogous provision holds:

The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.

This provision underscores the common-law public trust doctrine which Michigan and the federal courts have long recognized. But the failure of Michigan convention delegates to put the public trust doctrine in the constitution itself may blunt efforts to apply the three-justice Pennsylvania logic in this state. The concurring justice’s substantive due process theory, as understood in Michigan, might have more success.

SUBSECTION 205(2) OF THE ZONING ENABLING ACT

But the New York court’s approach is simpler.

Michigan’s zoning law is called the Zoning Enabling Act.  In two independent clauses, subsection 205(2) of the act prescribes preemption:

A county or township [1] shall not regulate or control the drilling, completion, or operation of oil or gas wells or other wells drilled for oil or gas exploration purposes and [2] shall not have jurisdiction with reference to the issuance of permits for the location, drilling, completion, operation, or abandonment of such wells.

Note that 205(2) does not claim to preempt bans or regulations by cities and villages.

(205(3) and subsequent subsections of 205 say a local ordinance shall not “prevent the extraction, by mining, of valuable natural resources from any property unless very serious consequences would result…”  But note these subsections apply only to extraction by mining.  Gas and oil are extracted by drillingDrilling and mining are different in Michigan law, governed by mutually exclusive subchapters and parts of NREPA. These subsections do not affect subsection 205(2).)

The restrictions of section 205(2) on counties and townships have to be considered in light of the state constitutional requirement that zoning powers (and all other local powers) are “liberally construed in [the counties' and townships'] favor.”

Describing this requirement in 1961, the year the state constitution was adopted, the convention commented:

Home rule cities and villages already enjoy a broad construction of their powers and it is the intention here to extend to counties and townships within the powers granted to them equivalent latitude in the interpretation of the constitution and statutes.

In section 205(2), by putting the words “location” and “abandonment” in the second clause but omitting them from the first, the Michigan legislature made the same distinction the New York court did: The state governs and preempts only technical rules for how oil-gas operations occur. But it allows counties and townships to “regulate and control” where they occur, ensuring the quiet enjoyment of land without a towering drill rig in the same neighborhood as single-family homes.

State oil-gas regulations do speak of “location” in the sense of providing isolation distances of structures within a surface facility (such as the required separation of a wellhead and a flare), or the separation of operations from roads, watercourses, and sensitive areas. Part 615 also says a well cannot in most cases be within 450 feet of a residential building. Isolation radii for other sensitive areas range up to 2000 feet.

Part 615 also speaks of limiting well locations generally to the “approximate” centers of “drilling units” so as to prevent the unnecessary wells and maximize efficient draining. The default size of a drilling unit is 40 acres.

But these “location” references are technical and quite circumscribed. By contrast, with a single exception involving group child care homes, Michigan zoning designates land via large multi-mile swaths, prescribing uniform regulations for districts designated as residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial, undeveloped, and the like.  Zoning is not about delimited perimeters around a center. And it’s not about efficient draining.

In other words unlike the DEQ, planning commissions and zoning boards take into account the community’s plan and character.  Communities can zone the broad areas where oil and gas operations — and all other industrial operations — may be located or abandoned. But DEQ “permitting” is done individually, well-by-well, with technical instructions specific to each well. As long as counties and townships don’t try to issue such permits they don’t enter a field “occupied” by DEQ.

The character of a township or county has nothing to do with the DEQ’s job anyway, which is “prevention of waste and … the conservation of oil and gas.” There are no references to zoning in Part 615. The only zoning requirements in the DEQ rules apply to residential zones so designated before 1993. Even in an area zoned residential before then, DEQ can hold a hearing and allow a flare over the local government’s objection.

To drive home the rule of non-preemption, in 2006 the Michigan legislature did voluntarily what the Pennsylvania supreme court ordered that state to do for Act 13. Michigan amended section 205(2) by removing explicit preemption language.  Until then, the predecessor of 205(2) had this clause at the end:

The jurisdiction relative to wells shall be vested exclusively in the supervisor of wells of this state.

The language dated from Public Acts 183 and 184 in 1943.

There is a Michigan decision upholding preemption, but it was decided in 1994, 12 years before the 2006 change.  The decision is no longer dispositive.  In any event, it did not concern location or abandonment.

FOSTERING THE INDUSTRY

Similar to New York, one overall purpose of Part 615 is to:

foster the development of the [oil-gas] industry along the most favorable conditions and with a view to the ultimate recovery of the maximum production of these natural products [oil and gas].

This provision, enacted in 1939, was part of a package oil-gas bill.  The Michigan Oil & Gas Association supported it as a “confidence” builder for the industry, according to a newspaper account of the day. It means that every time DEQ regulators make a decision large or small, and every time an issue comes before a judge or jury, they have to be thinking in terms of fostering the industry.

The New York court saw no contradiction between its decision and that state’s very similar policy.

THE INDUSTRY’S ARGUMENT FOR PREEMPTION

Why do Michigan and other states even have preemption statutes?  Preemption’s “sound basis” was explained by the Michigan supreme court in 1989, in the first of two decisions in the same case.  It relied on this factual finding:

Oil and gas are natural resources with fixed locations.  A gas field cannot be moved to a more favorable site.

The second decision in that case in 1990 reaffirmed the reasoning of the first one, and added that a township could “prohibit land use for [an above-ground] processing facility” altogether.

But with the recent advent of horizontal drilling in newly exploited types of rock formations, the “fixed location” fact is no longer actually a fact.

DEQ rules define the “well location” as its “surface location,” not the location of the gas or oil below. The two can be widely different.

In a well with a 2-mile-long horizontal fracking leg, the operator is free from an engineering standpoint to drill into the leg from a surface location at either end.  Other things being equal, no law would stop an operator from locating the surface hole arbitrarily, say, in a township where it had business dealings with officials.

There are in fact several DEQ-permitted frack wells with the ends of the horizontal legs in different townships.  Two wells — State Norwich 1-6 and 3-12 HD1 — were even permitted with the ends in different counties, Kalkaska and Missaukee.

Accordingly no longer can it be said that oil or gas locations are always fixed.  No longer is there always a factually “sound” basis for preemption.

SECTION 207 OF THE ZONING ENABLING ACT

A second section of the Zoning Enabling Act could also be seen as an obstacle to a local frack ban.  Section 207 says:

A zoning ordinance or zoning decision shall not have the effect of totally prohibiting the establishment of a land use within a local unit of government in the presence of a demonstrated need for that land use within either that local unit of government or the surrounding area within the state, unless a location within the local unit of government does not exist where the use may be appropriately located or the use is unlawful.

This section is inapplicable to oil-and-gas drilling. By its wording, the burden of proof of the existence of a “demonstrated need” would be on the operator which seeks to drill for oil or gas.  Unlike gravel and other similar commodities, oil and gas are not sold locally. They are sold on national and international markets.  An operator would not be able to prove that a well it wished to drill in one township would be for the purpose of fulfilling a “demonstrated need” in that township or in one nearby.

As the Michigan Public Service Commission explains it:

Natural gas consumed in Michigan comes from gas and oil fields located primarily in Michigan’s lower peninsula, the Texas-Oklahoma Panhandle, on and off-shore Louisiana, and Alberta, Canada. … Most of Michigan’s gas production is purchased by Michigan utilities for their customers, but some is also sold to gas marketing companies that sell gas outside of Michigan. Natural gas produced in Michigan represents about 15-20% of the total gas consumed in Michigan.

LOCAL UNITS OF MICHIGAN GOVERNMENT CAN BAN FRACKING

As noted, cities and villages in Michigan have long been free to enact local frack bans without controversy or legal obstacles.

There is controversy about counties and townships.  But the logic of the New York and Pennsylvania decisions is compelling here even if not binding, given the similarities of the state laws.

The Michigan supreme court showed itself recently to be friendly to the idea of local control. Legislation later undid that ruling, but only in the context of mining.

A courageous Michigan county or township, willing like Dryden and Middlefield to stand up to the industry and risk litigation, may soon be in the offing.

 


 

Ellis Boal is a lawyer in Charlevoix. Last year he won an injunction against 13 Encana wells in Kalkaska County, three of which in terms of water usage would have been the largest in the US.

 

Support growing for a Michigan fracking ban

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Michigan local leaders’ views on opposing fracking in new poll

A new statewide poll shows that Michigan local government leaders believe that community members and their local boards and commissions are more likely to oppose than support fracking in their communities.

The University of Michigan report (issued this month, with polling last December) indicates increasing statewide skepticism about fracking in Michigan. The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) surveyed local government leaders in the state on issues related to high-volume horizontal fracking in their communities.  Local leaders from 1,353 Michigan counties, cities, townships, and villages were polled.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey estimates about 6% of local jurisdictions currently have  fracking operations or efforts to add them, and 13% of survey respondents said they or their neighbors are somehow affected by it.  Even so, the survey found the issue is an increasingly active topic of conversation.

Where fracking is an active topic, local officials believe that citizens are more likely to oppose (37%) than support (11%) it in their communities. They believe the same about their local councils or boards, 29% saying that their boards oppose fracking compared to 16% who said their boards would support it.

The survey respondents themselves — the chief elected and appointed officials — are more evenly split, with 36% opposing and 31% supporting high-volume horizontal fracking.

There were regional differences, with officials in the Upper Peninsula more supportive of fracking (54% support, 32% opposed), northern Lower Peninsula officials more split (37% support, 35% opposed), and officials in more populated southeast Michigan sharply in opposition to fracking (19% support, and 51% opposed).

Factors that respondents said influenced their decision were risks to water (57%), environmental damage (56%), health risks to citizens (47%), impact on property values (41%) and the influence of community organizations that are active on fracking issues (31%).

The CLOSUP report concludes that, among a range of Michigan energy options, fracking ranks near last in support from local leaders, well behind renewable sources such as solar, hydroelectric, and wind power.

These results back up earlier polling by the Pew Research Center which reported last fall that the more people learn about fracking, the more they oppose it.  Pew conducted polls in March and September 2013 and found a marked increase in Americans opposed to fracking. In September 2013 more Americans (49%) opposed increased use of fracking than favored it (44%), a dramatic change from March 2013 when support for fracking had exceeded opposition by 10 points (48 to 38%). The Midwest showed a similar trend with 32% Midwesterners opposed to fracking in March and rising to 48% opposed by September 2013.

The CLOSUP results are a good sign that advocacy for a ban on fracking and the reasons why fracking is harmful are getting through to more people—those elected and the rest of us.

If you are an elected official and you’d like to know more about fracking and why it’s important to ban the practice, please contact us.

Gasland 2, showing in a town near you

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Ban Michigan Fracking is co-hosting several screenings of the film Gasland 2. The screenings are free and open to the public. Donations to the co-sponsors are appreciated and welcome!

Watch the movie trailer herehttp://www.gaslandthemovie.com/about-the-film

Friday, March 21, Elk Rapids, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Historic Elk Rapids Township Hall. Co-sponsored along with Ban Michigan Fracking and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

(Also Friday, March 21, Brighton, 7:00 to 9:30 p.m., the Livingston County Democrats are hosting a screening. Our Committee will be there making an announcement.)

Tuesday, March 25, Mecosta, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Morton Township Library. Co-sponsored by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Ban Michigan Fracking.

Friday, April 11, Chelsea, from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the Chelsea District Library. Co-sponosred with Ban Michigan Fracking and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Wednesday, April 23, East Lansing, from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at Edgewood United Church of Christ. Co-sponsored by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Ban Michigan Fracking.

Wednesday, April 30, Hastings, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Hastings Public Library. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. Sponsored by Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan.

Wednesday, May 14, Battle Creek, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 145 Capital Ave NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017. Co-sponsored by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, Ban Michigan Fracking and Physicians for Social Responsibility–Michigan Chapter.

See the trailer: