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Resident concerns over fracking are downplayed in Fox 17 story

October 9, 2012

Yesterday, WXMI Fox 17 posted a story about exploratory drilling in Ionia at a site where a Texas-based company might engage in hydraulic fracturing.

The local Fox affiliate talked to neighbors who live across the street from where the test drilling and potential fracking could take place. One response from the neighbor was:

“It’s not in our backyard, but it’s right across the stinkin’ street. So yea, close enough to really make us think about it. Ya know, start asking questions that we really didn’t ask before,” he explained.

This kind of sentiment has been shared across the country as more and more people find out about the environmental and health effects of hydraulic fracking.

The Fox 17 story then states, “Many environmentalists are against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, because it involves injecting wells with chemically treated water.” The WXMI story provides no evidence of this claim, nor do they seek out one of the many anti-fracking groups that exist in Michigan, some even in Grand Rapids.

Instead of seeking out details on fracking from an environmentalist, Fox 17 then sites a spokesperson from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) who states, “So you’d have at least three strengths of casing that would be cemented and sealed. So that would prevent any migration of any kind of fluid up and down the well and prevent anything from getting into the groundwater.”

Ending with such a statement from a government official leaves one with the impression that fracking is safe and without health or environmental consequences. This flies in the face of research on the issue, such as recent studies done by the US Geological Survey, which confirm that fracking for natural gas does contaminate groundwater. Many known toxic chemicals are being used in fracking, chemical that are harmful to both humans and animals.

This information is widely available and is one of the reasons there are citizen movements all across the country that opposing hydraulic fracturing.

WXMI 17 could have easily found another voice, such as groups like Ban Fracking Michigan or Mutual Aid GR, which organized an anti-fracking protest two weeks ago in Grand Rapids, which Fox 17 reported on. There is also a big demonstration being organized for October 24 in Lansing, since the Michigan DNR will be hosting another land auction, which will allow oil & gas companies to buy mineral rights to drill on public land. There was a previous DNR land auction in May that also saw over 100 people come out to protest.

The fact that Fox 17 did not seek out other voices in this story or provide any larger contextual information about the growing statewide opposition demonstrates lazy reporting.

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