In an effort to address ongoing concerns about hydraulic fracturing development in Michigan, regulators here have proposed a series of changes to the state’s permitting instructions over the natural-gas extraction method.
But those with concerns — largely from the environmental community — over how permits are issued and what information is available to the public say the state is not going far enough and that proposed changes favor industry interests.
The rules would affect high-volume forms of fracking that use more than 100,000 gallons of “primary carrier” fluids.
The groups’ concerns reflect several categories of the process: That chemicals used aren’t required to be disclosed before drilling; that water-quality testing only takes place involving high-volume withdrawals; that the state’s system for reporting water withdrawals is not set up for operations that could require tens of millions of gallons; and that statutory rules for pooling resources below the surface should not apply to natural gas deposits in shale formations.
“From what we’ve read in the proposed rules, they’re not actually doing anything that makes fracking safer, but making some changes to make people feel better about it,” said Rita Chapman, clean water program director for the Michigan Sierra Club. “Some of them go backwards, even.”