Fracking forum in Rockford turns out roughly 250 people – updated with more pictures
Last night, people from all over West Michigan attended a public forum on the growing practice of hydraulic fracturing. This forum, unlike the ones organized by State Legislators in the area did not include representatives from the MDEQ and Michigan DNR, which have been taking a pro-fracking position.
The event was co-sponsored by three groups, Kent County Water Conservation, Citizens for Responsible Resource Management and Mutual Aid Grand Rapids. All three groups oppose hydraulic fracturing on the grounds that it contaminates the water & land, perpetuates our dependency on fossil fuels and contributes significantly to climate change.
The forum consisted of a presentation by GRCC professor, Maryann Lesert, who has been doing research on this issue and presenting at many forums across the state. Lesert, asked that people who were not with the co-sponsoring organizations refrain from recording the forum. One man, with the oil & gas industry, refused to comply and numerous people surrounded him and prevented him from recording the event. We found out later that person was Eric Bauss, with the company Energy In Depth.
Maryann presented a great deal of information on the ecological and human health impact of fracking, as well as first hand images of fracking sites in the state. The number of sites is only likely to increase in the near future, based on the amount of land that has been publicly and privately leased in the state over the past year. The map below shows the sites in Kent County that were leased in October at the DNR auction in Lansing.
We have also discovered that over 400 plots of private land has been leased by a number of private oil & gas companies or front companies that have purchased the leases, based on county records.
After the talk, time was allotted for questions and comments. Many people expressed concern over the long term environmental effects of fracking and were angered at what has been taking place in Michigan without much public input in the process. Several people said they were afraid of what will happen if oil & gas companies were allowed to move forward and set up more fracking sites all across the state.
There were some antagonistic questions posed by representatives from the oil & gas industry. One oil & gas representative kept asking questions, even though everyone else had been given an opportunity to ask just one question. This person arrogantly kept asking questions and making statements to try to undermine the credibility of what Lesert had presented, but it seemed clear to this writer that people were just agitated by the disrespectful behavior of the oil & gas man.
The three sponsoring groups all had information tables and people took virtually everything that was offered, reflecting a strong interest from people that they wanted to know about this issue. One group even had a large map of Kent County that listed privately owned land that has been leased to the oil & gas industry, which lots of people looked at and expressed concern over, since many of those in attendance live near these sites.
The oil & gas industry set up a table outside the meeting space with their propaganda, despite not being a co-sponsoring group and never getting permission from the groups who organized the event. Their behavior reflected a sense of desperation that more and more of the public was now aware of the consequences of hydraulic fracturing, along with the growing opposition.
The following pictures were provided by Jeff Wilkinson, with Kent County Water Conservation.