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Fracking forum in Rockford turns out roughly 250 people – updated with more pictures

March 26, 2013

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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.

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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.screen-shot-2012-10-15-at-10-20-38-am

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.

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The following pictures were provided by Jeff Wilkinson, with Kent County Water Conservation.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellen Stuart permalink
    March 26, 2013 12:58 pm

    The amount of fresh water being used in cracking is a major concern. Also, the problem of disposal of the toxins. I could not attend due to another commitment, but I wondered if this was addressed.

  2. Ellen Stuart permalink
    March 26, 2013 1:00 pm

    FRACKING! sorry.

  3. March 26, 2013 2:03 pm

    Ellen, Maryann did talk about the use of fresh water and how, once it is contaminated with the chemicals used in fracking, it never returns to the hydraulic stream.

  4. Candi Teachout permalink
    March 26, 2013 4:19 pm

    Good summation of a good presentation Jeff. I was pleasantly surprised at the number in attendance but not surprised by the arrogance from the pro-fracking industry. I knew instantly that the group outside the doors were pro due to the glossy brochures that their industry can afford. That Excelsior well is very near my father’s family farmland. Sad so many of we human beings seem to never learn or care.

  5. Marissa Hicks permalink
    March 26, 2013 4:22 pm

    I grew up in Rockford, but have lived in Pennsylvania for the past 7 years, where they are about 5 years ahead of Michigan with Fracking. Many people who live near drilling sites are ill, and there are NUMEROUS instances of water contamination. The oil and gas industry forces people to sign non-disclosure agreements in exchange for bringing them clean water. These people literally sign a document stating that no contamination took place (when in fact it did). The people who refuse to sign these agreements (and talk about their experiences) are threatened and bullied by the industry. Pure Michigan won’t be “pure” in 5 years. There is an online “list of the harmed” that details some of the problems with Fracking:
    http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/

  6. April 1, 2013 5:59 pm

    Volunteer with the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan ballot initiative at http://www.letsbanfracking.org. Campaign begins April 12, and we have a kick off event in Grand Rapids this Saturday, April 6. See the website’s Events page for more information. This is for a legislative proposal to ban horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and wastes produced by it, statewide, and also eliminates the state’s policy, codified into law, to “maximize production” of gas and oil and “foster” the industry. –LuAnne Kozma, campaign director

  7. E. Cheryl permalink
    April 2, 2013 12:48 pm

    Just yesterday our local paper reported that MI is dead last in replacing 80 year old cast iron pipe lines with only 15 percent replacement. Now with tar sand and its abrasiveness and corrosive nature, this is very bad news.

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