Nearly 200,000 acres of public land will go on the auction block next month for oil and gas drilling.
Several dozen people urged Department of Natural Resources officials to cancel the auction. They called for a study of the impacts from hydraulic fracturing or fracking, especially under sensitive recreation properties such as the Jordan River Natural Area.
Nick Occhipinti with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council says not enough is known about deep fracking to put the state’s land and water at risk.
“To be honest we don’t know what the issues are,” Occhipinti says. “And that’s part of the reason we’re calling on the study and waiting on the EPA national study for fracking which is due in 2014.”
But DNR Director Keith Creigh says drilling directly in those sensitive places is typically not allowed. “We actually catalog and review those sites to make sure that there are not disturbances on the soil nor are there disturbances that will impact the natural resources,” Creigh says.
But fracking can siphon oil and gas from deep under those sensitive sites from adjacent property. And opponents are worried that still might degrade high quality recreation areas with air, water and noise pollution.
DNR insists the method has proven safe in shallower wells over the last half-century. And the agency plans to go ahead with the auction on October 24th.