Nicholas Occhipinti, Policy and Community Activism Director at the West Michigan Enviornmental Action Council, discusses the upcoming mineral leasing auction on October 24 for the oil and gas rights of Michigan state lands and the concerns of fracking on these lands.
The state leasing auction for oil and gas development, starts tomorrow and there is much to be worried about. “If these lands are leased for oil and gas development, then there could be recreational and environmental issues,” says Occhipinti. The areas gaining the most concern are the Cannonsburg State Game Area, the White Pine Trail State Park, the Rogue River State Game Area, and the Ionia Recreation Area. The worry for these areas is that horizontal hydraulic fracturing will occur from adjacent industrial properties, that drill into the ground, and then horizontally, affecting surrounding land areas.
It’s not until 2014 that the EPA is expected to release its study on hydrofracturing, which calls for careful and thoughtful actions to be taken on part of the environment, until more is known. “There’s a whole host of protections that we need to put in place to make sure fracking is safe in Michigan,” says Occhipinti. Since we don’t know the exact effects of oil and gas development, it’s justified to call for a delay in the leasing auction. For those who want to make a difference, Occhipinti says the first thing to do is to get educated on this issue and to contact the Director of DNR, Keith Craig, to get a delay in the auction. The second way to help is to contact local and state legislatures to bring more education on hydraulic fracturing to your community.
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“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life. Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.