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MLive headline on oil & gas interests in Kent County is misleading

October 28, 2012

This morning, MLive posted a story about the increased interest from oil & gas companies to purchase mineral rights for oil & gas drilling in West Michigan.

The headline reads, “Find out where oil and gas leasing is booming across Lower Michigan.” Such a headline was delightfully welcomed, especially since lots of people in the area have been concerned about where oil & gas companies might be drilling near their property and what the consequences might be.

However, after reading the article one discovers that there are no details of where oil & gas companies are buying land in West Michigan. The MLive reporter builds up some anticipation about finding out which parcels of land have been grabbed up by oil & gas companies by telling readers about how the Kent County Chief Deputy Registrar has seen a significant increase in signed leases in Kent County.

Unfortunately, no details on which parcels of land that have been leased by oil & gas companies follows. It seems clear that the reporter talked to the official from Kent County, either in person or on the phone, so why not get details on which companies and which parcels of land have been leased for mineral rights? Seems like a logical question that the general public would certainly benefit from.

The article does tell readers about companies doing oil & gas exploration up north and that Barry & Allegan Counties have been hotbeds of oil & gas activity, but the only company identified operating in West Michigan is Western Land Services. The MLive reporter talked to a representative from Western Land Services, but their response is, “To detail what we’re doing and what we’re looking for and what we’re after, I’m not at liberty to discuss.”

This is where the MLive article ends, meaning they didn’t question such a response or try to find any information out about the company that would be useful public information. Instead, all readers get is a hyper-link to the company, which upon viewing tells us virtually nothing of value.

What we could find on Western Land Services was limited, but there is some useful information. Western Land Services has offices across the country, but primarily works on behalf of oil & gas companies to purchase land or leasing rights, sort of a front company or go between, in order to protect the companies who will actually be doing the oil & gas extraction. A recent example in Michigan was when Western Land Services was hired by Chesapeake Energy Corp, according to a story from Reuters. The Reuters piece talks about how many land owners in the Traverse City area were approached by companies like Western Land Services on behalf of Chesapeake Energy Corp and that there is now a lawsuit against the fossil fuel giant because of fraudulent practices.

So, not only does MLive not give us details about which parcels of land have been leased in Kent County by oil & gas companies, they didn’t do much work to actually inform the public about the companies seeking to profit from oil & gas extraction.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Randy Marsh permalink
    October 28, 2012 5:11 pm

    So, I take it you’re going to pick up the slack on Monday and go find out where the exact parcels are when the county offices open.

  2. October 28, 2012 5:12 pm

    Actually, I am going on Tuesday.


  1. What you need to know about Mlive article headlined, “What you need to know before you lease your land for oil & gas exploration” « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. What are companies purchasing oil & gas leases in Kent County hiding? « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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