April 25, 2012

Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Support Fracking Disclosure Bill

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clean Water Action and Sierra Club
Support Protecting Michigan’s Water from Fracking

Chemical disclosure laws are critical to keeping our water safe 

LANSING– Michigan environmental groups joined together today with State Representatives Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Ellen Cogen-Lipton (D-Huntington Woods) and Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) inside the State Capital Building in support of legislation to protect Michigan’s waters from fracking by requiring the industry to publicly disclose chemicals used in the extraction process.

“Michigan can’t afford to get this one wrong. The chemicals used in the fracking process include carcinogens and neurotoxins that put Michigan’s public health at risk. This bill will finally require fracking companies to be honest with the public about the toxic chemicals they are using before a permit may be issued,” said Susan Harley, Policy Director, of Michigan Clean Water Action.  “This legislation is a very important part of a larger package of fracking bills that would push pause on the issuance of new permits until a full study of the risks has been completed by the state and recommendations of improved safeguards have been made. “

Currently, there are only a few restrictions on fracking and the industry does not have to publicly disclose the type or quantity of chemicals they intend to inject into the ground. The new bill would require companies to fully disclose the type and amounts of chemicals used in the extraction process prior to obtaining a drilling permit.

"Michigan Sierra Club members have been extremely concerned about the environmental problems associated with the lack of chemical disclosure for quite some time. Today, we're proud to support legislation that will better protect Michigan citizens from the dangers of fracking," said Jim Egged, a volunteer with the Sierra Club.

The package of bills proposed by the House Democrats include:

  • HB 5565 (Brown) - Requires companies to disclose the chemicals they use in fracking in order to obtain a permit from the state and requires companies to use the least harmful chemicals possible. Also allows for public comments before a permit is issued.
  • HB 5151 (Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing) - Directs the state to conduct a study on large-scale fracking's impact on Michigan's environment and drinking water.
  • HB 5150 (Dillon) - Puts a moratorium on large-scale fracking operations until the state's Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Quality review process is complete.
  • HB 5149 (Irwin) - Eliminates the statutory exemption for oil and gas drilling from state water use approval requirements. 
  • HB 4736 (Brown) - Establishes a presumption of liability for a fracking operation if fracking chemicals are found in nearby groundwater.    

The horizontal hydraulic fracturing process involves blasting a toxic mixture consisting of 5 million gallons of water, sand, and harmful chemicals deep below the water table. The fracking fluid is then used to break apart a rock formation that can now be used for gas extraction. Chemicals associated with the process include known carcinogens and neurotoxins such as benzene, lead, ethylene glycol, methanol, boric acid, and formaldehyde.

House Bills 5149-5151 were introduced in November in the Michigan House of Representatives, and HB 4736 was introduced in June of last year.