DEQ Proposes New Fracking Regulations

Fracking West Michigan

On Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced their intent to issue new rules for fracking high-volume fracking operations in Michigan.  The changes would require well operators to perform water withdrawal assessments, hydrocarbon baseline testing of nearby water supplies, and greater disclosure of chemical additives:

  • All permit applicants would be required to use the Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT), and withdrawals would be denied if the results demonstrate an Adverse Resource Impact on local streams and rivers
  • Water levels would need to be tracked on all water supply wells within a quarter mile of the extraction site; baseline samples would be required from up to 10 water supply wells if they are within a quarter mile of the extraction site
  • Separate applications would be needed for high-volume operations on existing sites and well operators would need to notify the DEQ at least 48 hours before beginning extractions
  • Fluid pressures and volumes would have to be monitored for all high-volume operations
  • Operators would have to submit chemical information into the online FracFocus Chemical Disclosure registry, which includes chemical constituents and maximum concentrations
  • Operators would be allowed to submit the chemical family and trade name for those chemicals with federal trade secret protection

The DEQ explains that it periodically updates its policies in light of changing technologies, and they are responding to concerns expressed by both the public and environmental groups in Michigan. Though fracking operations have been in Michigan since the early 1950s, the newer, high-volume operations include technology that is quickly outpacing the regulations meant to monitor them. Currently, there are over 12,000 fracking wells in our state—most of them are located in the northern lower peninsula, though greater attention is being turned on potential sites here in West Michigan.

Popular concerns with fracking have focused on levels of water withdrawals and chemical disclosure, and the DEQ’s announcement appears to be a positive step in addressing these concerns. John Griffin, the executive director for the Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan, has stated that the proposed regulations “look workable.”

WMEAC welcomes the proposed changes.  However, we hope the DEQ and Snyder Administration will continue to study the issue in Michigan and strengthen protections as new data is gathered.

0 replies
  1. Brian Burt
    Brian Burt says:

    This sounds like a step in the right direction. Very encouraging news! We’ve had several meetings in our township to discuss fracking, and there’s great concern in the community. Hopefully, these new rules will slow things down and provide ample time for affected areas to consider the potential impacts.


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