Michigan’s fracking bonanza challenges state regulators

Phyllis and Bernard Senske’s daily rituals in their 1930-built stone house in Rapid River Township, near Kalkaska, mirror those of many rural Midwestern seniors. Phyllis, who just turned 81, plays ragtime tunes on her Gordon Laughead upright piano in the corner of their living room. At the coffee table a few feet to her left, Bernard, 82, hovers over a crossword puzzle. On occasion he goes outside to cut wood, or tend to the cattle and sheep, which they raise in the summer months.

But the view out the west-facing window from Phyllis’ piano bench is atypical. When she turns to her right, she sees the burning flare from a fracking well approximately 1,000 feet away. When the wind swirls about, she smells chemicals in the air — an odor she says she’s never gotten used to. On days and nights of activity at the well, industrial trucks hauling water, sand or chemicals rumble down rural Wood Road, spitting distance from the stone house where Phyllis was born. The house shakes and rattles enough to spill puzzle pieces off the coffee table. The windows require frequent cleaning from the diesel exhaust.

“Playing the piano is an escape from reality,” says Phyllis, who has the dubious distinction of living near Northern Michigan’s first fracking well in a residential neighborhood.

Since early 2013, the Senskes have been forced to contend with a new neighbor in their neck of the woods: Encana, an Alberta, Canada-based oil and natural gas company, which bought land adjacent to their property. Encana’s big business is hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, an innovative drilling new technology that opens access to fossil fuels embedded in the bedrock more than a mile below the earth’s surface. While oil and gas have been extracted from this part of Michigan for decades, fracking offers a new bonanza. Between 2008 and 2010 Encana acquired more than 250,000 acres in the Collingwood/Utica Shale, which stretches across the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, from the eastern sand dunes to the center of the state.

The drilling has escalated a fierce battle that is playing out in rural townships, in the state capital and in the courts this election year. The issue is also testing state environmental agencies as they try to balance the economic benefits the industry produces for Michigan with the safety and public health concerns of environmentalists and residents.

The latest chapter is the resolution of criminal and civil claims against the largest industry player in the state, Encana. Earlier this month, the company reached a settlement with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office regarding collusion charges. The state contends the natural gas giant conspired with Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy in 2010 to avoid a bidding war in Michigan public auctions and private negotiations for oil and gas leases, causing prices on those properties to plummet.

The alleged conspiracy may have driven the state-held lease price from $1,510 per acre in May 2010 to less than $40 an acre by October 2010. The companies’ alleged bid-rigging efforts were first uncovered by the Reuters news organization. Tom Lyon, a professor of business economics at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, testified that the companies’ actions cost the state roughly $62 million. The recent settlement requires Encana to pay $5 million, which goes into the DNR’s State Park Endowment Fund.

Encana spokesman Doug Hock issued the following statement on the settlement:

“Encana values its relationships in the State of Michigan, including with the Department of Natural Resources. Since our initial entry into Michigan in 2009, Encana has invested more than $230 million in the State, and created hundreds of jobs and opportunity to the benefit people and families across Michigan. Through this arrangement, Encana will continue to help fund initiatives which benefit Michigan residents.”

New rules from state

Meanwhile, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, the agency tasked with regulating the industry, released new rules in April for oil and gas drilling that it said takes both the upside and potential danger of fracking into account. Reaction to the rules is mixed. Industry representatives claim they already follow the regulations on a voluntary basis. Some environmentalists see them as a step in the right direction; others say they fall short of protecting Michigan’s water and private landowner rights.

Fracking is a drilling process in which large amounts of water, sand and chemicals are injected deep into wells at high pressure to extract natural gas deposits trapped in the shale.

Proponents of fracking and horizontal drilling within the shale bedrock maintain the process is safe because the fossil fuel formations lie far below the water table that supplies drinking water. They say that tapping North America’s vast quantities of oil and natural gas will make the United States energy independent and less reliant on politically unstable “oiligarchies” such as Venezuela and the Middle East, and might one day enable us to export fuel to Europe, which currently relies on Russian natural gas to heat its homes and power its vehicles. Supporters tout the shale bonanza as an environmentally pragmatic “bridge fuel” which pollutes less than burning coal and buys time until renewable fuel sources such as solar, wind and hydropower become more cost effective and can compete on the open market.

Not incidentally, the oil and gas industry is also big business in Kalkaska County, and has been for decades, providing thousands of jobs over the years.

For environmentalists, activists and some residents, fracking is anything but your grandpa’s oil and gas drill. They worry that mixing chemicals and sand with the millions of gallons of water injected into each well could pollute groundwater if well casings fail. The 2010 Academy Award-nominated documentary "Gasland" showed a Colorado resident who discovered methane gas in his water supply turning on his kitchen faucet and lighting the tap water on fire with a match.

Fracking companies are not obligated to disclose the chemicals they use, though many are known to be carcinogenic.

How to dispose of contaminated “frack fluids” is also cause for concern, environmentalists say. Meanwhile, bedrock fracking is being investigated by state agencies as possibly playing a role in inducing earthquakes in Ohio and California.

Perhaps the biggest concern for Michigan environmentalists is that the current fracking process involves removing as many as 35 million gallons of water per well from nearby aquifers, which they say could deplete local supplies. That’s more water per frack well than any other place in the nation, says Jacque Rose, an environmentalist who co-founded the website FARWatershed.com, a rallying tool for the Friends of the Au Gres-Rifle Watershed.

Encana is also seeking state approval for “resource play hubs” which would allow the company to run six or eight wells off of one frack pad, or surface location, with some wells running north and some running south. Encada says using a single location to launch multiple wells saves on production costs and reduces the environmental impact of drilling.

Environmentalists counter that doing so would exponentially deplete the local water supply. Paul Brady, a watchdog near Kalkaska who contributes to RespectMyPlanet.org, which has an interactive map that identifies all 58 frack wells in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, has sued the DEQ to stop the state agency from allowing resource play hubs.

Critics, including David Hyndman, a leading hydrologist, professor and chair of Michigan State University’s Department of Geological Sciences, have decried the DEQ’s water measurement tool as grossly overestimating the amount of water that can be safely removed without adversely impacting the area’s groundwater.

Encana runs through it

The Collingwood/Utica Shale sits under sensitive and pristine watersheds, including the headwaters of the Manistee and Au Sable rivers. Encana has fracking wells on state land nearby, which worries some fishermen, for whom the Au Sable boasts some of the best trout fishing in the Midwest. In one instance, water withdrawals for a frack job in 2011 nearly dried up a segment of the Manistee’s north branch.

When energy company Halliburton fracked Encana’s Westerman 1-29 HD1 well last May with water taken from the Kalkaska Village municipal system, Phyllis and Bernard Senske suddenly experienced a significant drop in water pressure, which exhausted their pump. Before long, water the color of milk emerged from their faucet, likely the result of their well drawing air. Local environmental consultant Chris Grobbel inspected the Senskes’ well and concluded that it had sunk by 11 feet. “I’m inclined to believe they drew way too much water out of the aquifer,” Phyllis told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Encana ultimately reimbursed the Senskes the cost of a new pump, and undertook efforts to appease others in the neighborhood. Dick and Ruth Crawford, who live next door to the Senskes and even closer to the frack well, complained of continual noise, light pollution and dust during the initial drill, so Encana paid for them to stay for a week at nearby Deer Tracks Ranch. But once they returned, they said, the noise continued. The Crawfords considered selling their house and moving, but gave up after a real-estate agent told them their home, now next to an industrial-scale fracking operation, had plummeted in value.

“I think we should drill for oil,” Ruth Crawford told the Northern Express, Northern Michigan’s alternative weekly. “You don’t have to do it on top of someone’s house.”

Michiganders concerned about fracking also worry that the DEQ and DNR are unable or unwilling to effectively determine where fracking should be permitted and monitor water conditions when wells are injected. Critics say the state agencies take a cue from Governor Rick Snyder’s industry-friendly policy that favors extraction of natural resources.

“In my opinion, the DEQ has been lax on the oil and gas community,” says Grobbel, the environmental consultant, who once worked for the state agency. He cites a September 2013 report by the auditor general which, he says, found more than a dozen “shocking statements about the lack of vigilance and lack of quality at well heads.”

Rick Henderson, field operations chief at the DEQ, defended the agency’s performance. “I think we have an excellent track record here in Michigan,” Henderson said. “We regulate oil and gas activity from beginning to end, cradle to grave. I’m very confident that it’s not hurting water supplies.”

Debate on response

Michigan’s environmental community appears deeply divided about how to respond to fracking. FARWatershed.com’s Jacque Rose breaks down the movement into three camps with diverging strategies: those pushing for an outright ban on fracking in Michigan; those in favor of a temporary moratorium until more can be determined about how fracking impacts the environment, and those who don’t want to stand in the way of fracking but want more regulation from the state. Other organizations are focusing on ways to empower local municipalities and townships to combat fracking companies.

“We have a situation now in the legislature and regulatory agencies where we don’t have structures in place to safely regulate this,” laments Rose.

“If you destroy Northern Michigan, there goes the entire tourism industry,” says Luanne Kozma, co-founder of the group Ban Michigan Fracking. “That’s why we want a statewide ban.”

The battle playing out in Lansing and in Kalkaska’s Rapid River Township is also playing out in capital’s across the nation, as lawmakers and residents attempt to reconcile a technology that is unearthing enough fossil fuels to alter our energy landscape with concerns that not enough is known about its potential dangers.

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Tue, 05/20/2014 - 8:45am
The "Perhaps the biggest concern for Michigan environmentalists is that the current fracking process involves removing as many as 35 million gallons of water per well from nearby aquifers, which they say could deplete local supplies." statement bothers me since "as many" doesn't tell us anything about the mean or median and certainly doesn't tell us anything about "as little", whatever that may be in the fracking world. It also doesn't give us a clue if this water can be reused for new wells, and if not, why not. The article also doesn't explain why surface water instead of ground water can't be used for fracking. The reference to gas coming from a water pipe is weak since there are examples of this happening in Michigan and other locations long before any company was doing fracking. Without getting into the mechanism for how this can happen and why it happened in Colorado, the reference to the incident isn't illuminating. You have to wonder why the flare exists near the Senske home and the gas is not being used to heat someone's house. If I lived in the Senske house, I wouldn't be happy, but, their problem is about industrial use of adjoining property and has little to do with the fracking process itself: if a non-fracked oil or gas well had been drilled they would be just as unhappy, since after the initial drilling, the problems with fracked or non-fracked wells are the same problems. Some gas wells stink, but I doubt if the fracking used to initially enhance the well is an ongoing factor. Methane is orderless and deadly. Maybe the wells to worry most about are the ones that don't stink. This article provided some good information, but it's credibility is weakened by the incomplete data on water use and the water faucet fire example, which probably had nothing to do with the fracking process used to initially enhance the well. Maybe the biggest problem with fracking is the fracked information we're getting. The reports about pros and cons are all over the map, inconsistent, and in general, not very creditable.
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 9:41pm
The water could be used again if the gas companies were willing to pay for it out of the millions they are making. They are not, so they take our fresh water instead. Horrible for the Earth, the people, the wildlife, but they get to keep more of their profits. And they are exporting much of the gas so it's not all coming here. That is a farce.
Deb Muchmore
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 11:30am
The following statement from this story is not accurate: "Fracking companies are not obligated to disclose the chemicals they use, though many are known to be carcinogenic." Michigan regulations require that Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) containing the chemicals to be used in a hydraulic fracturing operation must be visibly posted at the well site for worker, regulator and first responder reference at all times. MSDS sheets are commonly used throughout industry, and regulated by OSHA, making the sheets and the information contained on them immediately understood by those who may need to reference them. On well sites where a hydraulic fracturing operation is planned, the information provided on a MSDS would be necessary in helping protect worker and environmental safety and instruct personnel on the proper handling of materials, should an accident occur. Companies also are required to provide the MSDS sheets for the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which posts the information on the agency's website for public transparency. The website Fracfocus.org also is a resource for the public to see the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. Currently, Michigan regulations do not require companies to post to Fracfocus.org, though many companies do so voluntarily as a way of open disclosure. The Michigan DEQ is considering making chemical disclosure by companies on Fracfocus.org a requirement; the Michigan Oil And Gas Association supports this. Deb Muchmore, for the Michigan Oil And Gas Association
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 9:43am
Ms. Muchmore's statement is misleading. Trade secrets and proprietary ingredients or compounds are still allowed. Look at the MSDS sheets and see.
Jim Bronke
Mon, 10/13/2014 - 11:56am
Posting an MSDS on site is not posting to the public. Get real. Face it when it comes to fracking acid is being used. That's why the smells are so bad.
Bruce McFee
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 12:44pm
While I agree that oil and gas drilling should be heavily regulated to make it safe, there needs to be some discussion of the consequences of importing too much oil. For decades, the US has needed to police the Middle East due to our dependency on foreign oil. As a result, thousands of young US men have lost their lives while on military duty, and many more have been permanently injured. Not to mention the massive financial strains we’ve incurred to fund our military. For the first time in decades, there is a real chance the US could become oil independent. While fracking is a 50 year old technology, it has been other technology such as improvements to horizontal drilling that have opened up more oil and gas locations. Michigan has a number of good potential oil producing locations. It seems like a reasonable answer on fracking is not absolute yes or absolute no, but to proceed cautiously, use regulation to ensure environmental safety standards are in place and that a cost benefit analysis is compared against the risks. The EPA is already phasing out gas flaring, as new gas recovery products are being installed in oil locations in many parts of the country. Also, we could require insurance coverage for any operator in the event they make a mistake, and provide for adequate compensation to nearby residents if their property or lifestyle becomes impaired in any way. The point is that there are many ways to improve the safety and fairness of oil and gas drilling. The use of best practices and continuous improvement are a key to proper development.
Charles Richards
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 2:36pm
Excellent commentary by Mr. McFee. He is absolutely right to advocate the use of cost/benefit analysis. Fracking is, as he says, not a matter of absolute yes or no. I do disagree somewhat with his comments about energy independence. While it is true that we do have a direct interest in Middle East stability, we also have an interest in global economic stability and thus an indirect interest in the stability of Middle East oil supplies.
Charlie Weaver
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 5:56pm
The idea of energy independence juxtaposed with the oil and gas companies push to export their product amounts to a crock of fecal material!
Michael Smith
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:23pm
People who's property hasn't been invaded by these fracking companies are all in favor of it if it means cheaper natural gas and cheaper gasoline. I mean what's the downside of all this if you do sense it affecting your property? People who have to put up with the nuisance of smell, noise, dropping water levels, gas pipes etc have a different take on it as they rightly should. Try selling your house with this nonsense going on about you. I believe that these oil companies should be forced to pay the difference between the market value of their home prior to the oil company's invasion and the selling price of the home. Why should it be any different? You come into my neck of the woods, destroy my property value then cash out? Get real!
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 12:58pm
Great article, thanks.
Jeff Patterson
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 1:16pm
Jacob, the link to respectmyplanet.org is not working in your story. You have the link wrong. It's www.respectmyplanet.org. Please fix. Thank you.
Jeff Patterson
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 9:45am
Thank you for correcting the links above!
Jeff Patterson
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 1:17pm
Jacob, same thing with FARWatershed. Please fix the link. Thanks!!!
Nancy Derringer
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 1:53pm
Thanks, Jeff. Both links have been fixed. Nancy Derringer Bridge magazine
Jeff Patterson
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 9:47am
I replied my thank you to the wrong message :) Thank you for fixing the links Nancy.
Gene Markel
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 1:17pm
The graphic showing the Marcellus Shale bed is far different in depth as compared to the Antrim Shale bed in upper Michigan. The Marcellus bed is shown at a depth of 7,000 feet while The Antrim bed ranges from 600 to 1,000 feet in the Kalkaska area. With the Antrim bed being much shallower that the Marcellus bed, should this be a concern that fracking in a much shallower bed could cause damage the aquifer above the bed? I am not a geologist, but to me this is a concern. I think it is time for a qualified assessment by the USGS to update their 25 year old survey as to the fragility of the Antrim Shale and the lake Michigan aquifer.
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 1:40pm
EXCELLENT, article, Jacob Wheeler!
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 2:12pm
If you don't like the effects of "fracking" - then stop using fossil fuels!
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 7:01pm
Have you? Also all plastics and many other non-fuel products of the petroleum industry? And, besides the fuel used to run our cars, there's the fuel used to get all the products and services to us, and the fuel for our power plants? Not using oil is much more than riding a bike or walking and it's going to take major societal changes to get us able to stop using oil.
Charles Richards
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 2:49pm
"Tom Lyon, a professor of business economics at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, testified that the companies’ actions cost the state roughly $62 million. The recent settlement requires Encana to pay $5 million, which goes into the DNR’s State Park Endowment Fund." Whatever happened to triple damages in antitrust cases? The "Gasland" incident was later found to have been fraudulent.
Meleah Geertsma
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 3:47pm
To address some of the technical questions asked by EB: - The 35 million gallons figure is from Encana's permit applications for some of the most recent wells in front of MDEQ. Permits to date in Michigan that qualify as high volume hydraulic fracturing have requested approval to withdraw a minimum of around 5 million gallons; many of these were sought in the 2010-2011 timeframe. As time went on and plans involved going down to deeper and deeper levels, companies like Encana have sought permission to withdraw more and more water. The last summary of permit applications that I've seen (from the beginning of this year) showed pending requests or recently issued permits for about 16 wells varying from 19 million gallons to 35.2 million gallons of water, with a relatively even spread of wells across this range. - There's no reason one can't use surface water instead of groundwater - but using a groundwater supply near the well pad saves the company money and reduces the number of trucks going through communities to deliver water to the site. Not to mention that surface waters can be negatively impacted by such high withdrawals occurring in a short amount of time. So just switching to surface water is not a great alternative, even from the company's perspective. - As for reusing the water, ask the companies - recycling is possible, but in many instances it's cheaper and easier to just inject the used water back into the ground and withdraw new water. Encana as far as I know has not proposed to recycle any of the large amounts of water it's sought approval to withdraw in Michigan. - Meleah Geertsma, NRDC
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 3:51pm
To me, the bottom line is two-fold. 1. Water is extremely precious. It is, in fact, necessary for all life on earth. Water used to frack is contaminated, and will never be potable (fit for drinking) ever again. We are surrounded by 20% of the earth's surface water, into which the rivers & streams run. Much of the freshwater used in fracking stays in the well -- I'm left wondering where it may end up. Our economy in our northern counties is dependent on agriculture, tourism, and services to our population (like hospitals, stores, etc.) If we pollute any surface or groundwater, if we fragment our state land, we we do anything to make our area less attractive, we will lose the "summer people" and the tourist will no longer come in droves. 2. The U.S. already has more oil & gas reserves than we can afford to burn -- without making our Climate Change far worse. Further, the industry is trying to get permits for plants to produce Liquified Natural Gas -- for export. So we, the people of the U.S. & Michigan are risking our homes so that Industry can make dollars by selling to the rest of the world. And they are justifying that by saying "We will be energy independent". I do NOT agree.
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 10:14pm
Put an end to fossil fuels. The sooner we develop new energy techniques the cleaner the air, land and water. Germany is on the way. Fossil fuels are like drugs, to much money to be had by politicians.
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 10:40am
What we all fail to realize...... much of the gas and oil pumped out of OUR ground will be sold overseas in Asia, lessening the availability for US to become energy independent ..... which of course is the Oil and Gas Association's argument full of holes. .... they have NO responsibility to sell it here first ...... do not expect our gasoline prices to fall or even stay at the current levels when much of it is going over seas. Regulations of the oil companies to " SELL AT HOME FIRST" should be the cry of all Americans. As far as Horizontal drilling is concerned..... the companies DO NOT REQUIRE YOUR PERMISSION TO TAKE YOUR MINERAL RIGHTS (OIL/GAS) FROM YOUR PROPERTY.....and you may never know it. This law must be changed IMMEDIATELY..... Basically, taking your property without permission .... this used to be called thievery and people went to jail......by-the-by.... the STATE is a co conspirator in this process allowing the companies to do so......
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 1:37pm
I would be more comfortable with "MDEQ Regulations" if those writing the rules, and doing the enforcing actually had the high level of education and experience to be making the necessary highly technical decisions necessary in a field we really know so little about. When the people in Lansing who approve DEQ permits, permit a mine operation to discharge 117+cfs of polluted waste water into one of the finest trout streams in the State with a normal flow of 20 cfs, and then when challenged, tell the mining operation 'never mind, we won't require you to have a permit' because they don't know how to determine the correct number - we have a problem. The goal of industry is to make money, social responsibility is only relevant if it doesn't interfere with their goal. The State is responsible for the safety and well being of the citizens, however, it can be to their advantage to have less than competent individuals focusing on regulations for safety and well being, because the State benefits financially from the industry making money. To quote the late Representative Stephen Dresch "Follow the money trail." Until the State's "experts" are challenged in the courts and found unqualified,and then replaced, we will continue to have industrial operations approved of which have the potential of causing irreparable damage to the environment and the safety and well being of the citizens of Michigan.
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 7:43am
Permitting frack wells has nothing to do with competency. The agency would be in violation of the law if they did NOT permit the fracking. Michigan's regulations (state law) require the DEQ to "foster the development of the [gas and oil] industry along the most favorable conditions and with a view to the ultimate recovery of the maximum production" of oil and gas. (MCL 324.61502) Furthermore, the State receives severance taxes of 5% of the gross cash market value of gas and 6.6% of oil. So the goal of the industry and the goal of the DEQ are essentially the same and they are partners in industry. Until we change that part of the law, no Michigan regulation can go against that. My overarching concerns are global warming, and the public health impacts of fracking, which are often the result of toxic and greenhouse gas emissions into the air, in addition to water contamination. Water usage and contamination are very important, but my quote about tourism industry is secondary to the main issues. The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan (www.letsbanfracking.org) is a ballot initiative in Michigan which asks fellow Michigan voters to do the most responsible thing we can do for our planet and that is to ban fracking and frack wastes, and eliminate that part of MCL 324.61502 that requires the DEQ to be a handmaiden of the gas and oil industry.
Larry Davis
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 8:15am
You can always tell who loves money over everything else; we need more successful lawsuits against the oil industry for the harm done as happened with the successful suit against the fracking nuts and the child that was damaged by the toxins used. I had plans on retiring around Traverse City but rethinking that now. I hope that if this activity cannot be shutdown that those who support it have a well in their backyard....
Fri, 05/23/2014 - 6:47pm
I have worked in the oil and gas busness all over the US I grew up in Benzie county... On a trout. Stream... I am in North Dakota as I type this... The folks that don't want this have a bigger agenda then those who do.... I ask all of you to see what it has done for the badlands .... They drill along the rivers and streams with with a ton of regulation .. And you can not show me 1 case where Fracking was a issue... Take the old boy in Colorado that lights his tap water... That's not a Fracking issue that's methain gas... Usually found in heavy coal areas... I can light a hundred taps in Westvirgina ... In the End it comes down to the Libby's wanting there control on is... Yet they need to save the rest of the world first.... We have more then enough regulation..... Ps how much water is pulled out for Nestlies plant over east ..... I remember how that was going to suck the water right out of Lake Michigan .... The big lake is still there.... All is good relax... Come to the Dakotas
Sun, 05/25/2014 - 11:29am
With all the fracking gasprices didnot come down still over $ 3.79. a gallon . number one: Michigan is number TWO 2 in agriculture and with callifonia having a BIG DROUGHT ,,no agriculturs?vegetable/ fruit! : plus All the ground water lost to fracking( plus over 200 chemicals addit : . in california. DONOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE here in OUR MICHIGAN. We have Sweetwater no other state has "IT"! Check with OHIO . before FRACKING no EARTHQUAKES..since then over 200..
William Gill
Sun, 05/25/2014 - 4:11pm
It seems we are intent on destroying the earth...which sustains us. Surely those in charge of such companies must care...at least to some degree...what happens to their descendants. The enemy we face here is ourselves...greed will undo us unless we change...and quickly. Bill Gill
Tue, 07/08/2014 - 4:08am
Well, this is all enlightening but for someone who has just recently been approached by a landsman for a oil lease contract for our 30 acres it is all that more confusing to me. At the moment we are considering the pros and cons of leasing to Western Land Services with a fella by the name of Ken....seems like a nice fella and answers all the questions we can come up with. I am not to sure of what we should be asking for the sign on bonus or the percentage of royalties if we decide to sign on. Then I have the concern if we don't sign on can they take our oil/gas anyways if everyone around us signs on with their company? What happens then? Does signing a contract give them rights to our ground water to use on other wells not on our land? Also, as I read I think my greatest concern is our water well....the well will only be 330 feet west of our house...what kind of issues will we have to deal with, such as smells, and noise...what happens if they contaminate the property or we get sick.....and then what if the oil well they drill actually dries up our neighbors water wells, who is responsible for that, who takes care of the attorney fees if the neighbors sue us? So much to really think about. Could anyone tell me what the Collingwood Formation area (Gladwin County) is receiving for sign on and royalties....When I look at the risks and then compare it to what the company is receiving it seems to me $50 an acre is nothing at all.......My kids were going to build on our property and now I am not too sure if that will happen if we sign a contract....I like the idea of America being free from middle eastern oil but it sounds like the oil is going overseas to Asia....shouldn't a percentage of every barrel of oil be designated for the USA....I mean really China is already getting too much from America, now our oil too? ......It seems to me that even at $250 an acre for a sign on fee isn't enough really, not when everything is considered and the Risk the homeowner is taking in trusting the company to be upfront and care about the land as much as we do....I don't know if I am ready for the big tanks and all the other things that go along with it.....They have already drilled for oil down the road from us and it takes up a lot of space and those tanks are really big...Is an Attorney necessary and what are their fees? And how do we choose an attorney anyways/ ..Lots to be concerned about and lots to think about....Anyone that could add to my conversation would be most helpful....Thanks to all, its a good website for those of us who are new to all of this.
Michael Smith
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:41pm
Michigan should have a reserve price for drilling in this state. Maybe the auction price should start at $1500 per acre. Why should Michiganders have to sacrifice property so Encana can basically loot the state and in the process destroy people's lives? I would even go so far as say these companies should have to pay out annual profit sharing checks to the everyone within a defined radius of where they are drilling. Michigan's natural resources belong to the people not to the governor or the legislators to be meted out to political supporters. It should not be a decision that they and they alone make. These so-called servants of ours need to realize they serve the people not the other way around. The entire issue should be put on a ballot and let the people decide whether we want fracking at all in this state.