West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste and Development Services Director Marshall Labadie recently spoke with Local Stew about efforts to protect the thousands of acres of wetlands, woodlands, lakes and ponds from drilling operations that are occurring throughout Oakland County.
She said fracking could “devastate” the entire ecosystems, including wildlife. Officials are “trying to get in front of the fast-moving train right now,” she said.
The township is working with Oakland County Water Commissioner Jim Nash is holding a series of town hall meetings focusing on the impact of state-issued oil and natural gas drilling leases.
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Fracking, the common term for slick water horizontal fracturing, drills wells up to two miles into the earth, then turns the drill bit horizontally to drill up to several miles. The resulting well is then filled with millions of gallons of fresh water mixed with sand, salts and chemicals. The mixture is then subjected to bursts of intense pressure to loosen rock formations and release natural gas.
West Bloomfield has been a pioneer in protecting natural ecosystems and is one of 18 Michigan municipalities with ordinances regulating fracking, according to the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch, a Washington, DC-based consumer rights group that focuses and corporate and government accountability relating to food, water and fishing.
But “water has no boundaries,” Economou Ureste said, and fracking in nearby communities could negatively affect West Bloomfield’s pioneering efforts to protect residents from nearby drilling operations.
Many fear possible contamination of groundwater resources and have voiced concerns about disposal of the resulting hazardous fracking fluids.
The leases auctioned by the state in 2012 could bring drilling and potentially hydraulic fracturing or fracking to the area. In Oakland County and the surrounding area, Jordan Exploration and West Bay Exploration have leased or purchased thousands of acres of land for exploration and possible drilling.
“We want our residents to be informed and learn about topics that can affect our quality of life,” Nash said in news releases about his town hall meetings. “As more and more leases are being signed across the county, residents need to know how this industry can affect the environment and their lives.”