fracking

Stateside
5:41 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Increased horizontal hydraulic fracturing is causing concerns in Michigan

A natural gas well.
World Resources Institute

An interview with Andy Hoffman and Abrahm Lustgarten.

Right now we have abundant supplies of natural gas because of what the U.S. Energy Information administration calls robust inshore production, there is a glut of natural gas and that means cheaper gas.

This increased supply is mostly due to hydraulic fracturing - more importantly, a newer way to use the drilling method, horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Horizontal fracking has made it easier and cheaper to extract natural gas and oil from shale deposits in the U.S. and around the globe. Horizontal fracking has meant a boom in gas drilling in the U.S. and it's meant more jobs in certain areas of the country. It’s meant less dependence on foreign sources for energy. And because burning natural gas emits about half the CO2 emissions of coal or oil, it means less of the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. It also means families can heat their homes more cheaply.

But there are also risks and concerns. The extraordinary expansion of natural gas extraction through this use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing is causing some real concerns about risks to air and water quality.

Andy Hoffman, a professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan, and Abrahm Lustgarten, a reporter for ProPublica, joined us today.

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Politics & Culture
5:30 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

We continued our look at energy in Michigan on the show. Today, it's all about fracking. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing has led to an abundance of natural gas, but it is also raising a lot of concerns, both in the U.S. and Europe. We spoke with Andy Hoffman, Abrahm Lustgarten, and Russell Padmore about the risks.

And, you've heard of Benton Harbor and Whirlpool, Battle Creek and Kellogg - we explored "company towns" and what they mean for the Michigan economy.

First on the show, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network today released its 2012 Citizen’s Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance entitled “Descending into Dark Money.”

I’m sure you’ll be just shocked, shocked I tell you - to learn record amounts of money were spent with even less accountability for who was spending that money. 

Rich Robinson with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network joined us in the studio today to discuss the issue. 

Economy
2:58 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

Michigan's natural gas prices may rise, depending on decisions to allow more overseas exports

Natural gas prices have been extremely low in Michigan. But will prices stay low?
ipaa.org

For years, Michigan businesses and consumers have enjoyed extremely low natural gas prices.

But that may be changing. And it’s a case of basic economics. 

Natural gas is selling for about $4 per thousand cubic feet in the U.S.

In Europe, the price is closer to $10 per thousand cubic feet. In Japan, the price is hovering over $15.

So it should be no surprise that the energy industry is pushing hard for more exports of natural gas.       

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Environment & Science
3:21 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

New poll shows Michiganders holding conflicting views of 'fracking'

Anti-fracking protest (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll shows a slim majority of Michiganders support natural gas fracking, though they want the industry to face more regulations and pay more taxes.

Michigan’s natural gas industry has grown as companies have used a technique called Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, to break up shale deposits releasing natural gas.

Critics complain fracking is contaminating drinking water and causing other environmental problems.

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Energy
5:05 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

State auctions mineral rights as 'anti-fracking' groups gather

A natural gas well.
World Resources Institute

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – are blasting Michigan officials for opening more state lands to oil and gas companies. They held a rally in Lansing today as state officials auctioned the mineral rights for tens of thousands of acres of state land.

Fracking is a controversial process of extracting natural gas from deep underground.

Jim Nash is Oakland County’s water resources commissioner. He says the state needs to do more to protect against possible spills from fracking wells.

"We have fairly strict laws in Michigan, but we only have 22 people that actually do inspections," said Nash. "So it’s mostly self-reporting of incidents. That’s great if you have an honest company. But if you have a dishonest company that’s cutting corners already, they’re not going to report a bad accident."

The state Department of Environmental Quality says companies have been fracking in Michigan for decades without any significant environmental incidents.

Politics & Government
8:18 am
Thu May 9, 2013

In this morning’s news: wolf hunt bill signed, fracking debate, drunk driving legislation

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Governor Snyder signs wolf hunt bill

“Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation for a second time that would permit wolf hunts in Michigan. The governor signed the new law a day before the Michigan Natural Resources Commission is expected to approve a wolf-hunting season in some parts of the western Upper Peninsula. That’s despite a pending referendum challenge to the earlier wolf-hunting law,” Rick Pluta reports.

Bill would keep drunk driving limits the same

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation today that will keep the legal limit for drivers’ blood-alcohol content at 0.08 percent.

“The limit is set to revert back to 0.10 percent in October because of a sunset provision in current state law. The state would lose more than $50 million in federal funding for the state's highways if the limit rises,” the Associated Press reports.

Fracking debate intensifies

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding an auction today for state-owned oil and gas lease rights, prompting a heated debate over the expansion of hydraulic fracturing.

According to the Detroit News,

“Armed guards were present a week ago Tuesday at a public hearing held by Michigan's departments of natural resources and environmental quality to discuss drilling and the controversial natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking."

MLive.com reports that environmental groups are planning protests outside the Lansing Center today, where the auction will take place.

Environment & Science
11:19 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Watch town hall meeting on fracking in Michigan

An image from the short film on fracking shown at the town hall meeting.
University of Michigan

Michigan Radio recently co-hosted a town hall meeting with the University of Michigan's School of Engineering on the future of horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Michigan.

We also live-tweeted the event on hashtag #fracktopia. Here's one of the more revelatory facts that came out of that discussion:

Those are gas wells. Not necessarily horizontally fractured wells. Horizontal fracturing is still in the experimental stage in Michigan. One industry representative at the meeting said "the jury is still out" on whether horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Michigan would be a good investment.

The town hall discussion featured a screening of Fracktopia, a short film about the latest techniques to recover natural gas and oil and their potential consequences. Michigan Radio's Lester Graham then led a discussion and Q-and-A session with the following panelists:

You can watch the town hall meeting in full on the U-M School of Engineering's website.

Just click on the "View On-Demand" link.

Environment & Science
4:29 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

University of Michigan taking a broad look at the effects of fracking

(file photo)
michigangreenlaw.com

The University of Michigan is undertaking a broad review of the effects of Michigan’s growing natural gas industry.   U of M researchers met with environmentalists and industry officials today in Lansing.

Most natural gas is extracted using a process called hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. There are concerns that fracking might cause health and environmental problems.   But supporters say fracking is helping boost Michigan’s economy. 

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Law
4:59 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

State elections panel clears way for new petition drives

New petition is underway for Fracking in Michigan.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A state elections panel today cleared the way for two new petition drives to get underway. The drives will try to put questions on the 2014 general election ballot.

Fred Woodhams is with the Michigan Secretary of State. He says this brings the number of petition drives that have been approved for circulation to three.  He says the first is “a legislative initiative regarding fracking. “  He continued, “There’s a referendum regarding the wolf hunt legislation that was passed last year, and then there’s the constitutional amendment that deals with appropriations bills.”

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The Environment Report
10:29 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Group questions DEQ approval of use of fracking fluids on roads

A natural gas well.
World Resources Institute

A group that wants to ban hydraulic fracturing in Michigan says the state didn’t follow its own rules in disposing fluid from wells that were fracked. The group, Ban Michigan Fracking, has learned the fluid was spread on public roads close to a lake and in a campground near the Mackinac Bridge last summer.

State officials have said the fluids used to fracture deep oil and gas wells are to be disposed of carefully. Those fluids typically are millions of gallons of water per well plus a mixture of chemicals necessary to the fracking process.

Last summer, the Department of Environmental Quality allowed 40,000 gallons of fluid from fractured wells to be spread on public roads.

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Environment & Science
4:45 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

4 things from Gov. Snyder's "special address" on energy and the environment

Governor Snyder says he is bullish on natural gas.
World Resources Institute

Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder gave his “special address” on energy and the environment.

In it, he said it is impossible to ignore the connections between economics, energy, and the environment while talking about subjects like land management, invasive species, and urban farming.

Here are the highlights for those who missed it:

1) Pushing for more natural gas, says Michigan has safe "fracking"

In a section of his speech on Michigan’s energy future, the governor said he was bullish on natural gas.

With regard to the extraction and production of the gas, Governor Snyder suggested that Michigan has been safely hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for a long time.

In his address, Gov. Snyder said "hydraulic fracturing" and "horizontal drilling" have been around for decades.

...some have expressed concerns about what these technologies mean for Michigan’s environment. Neither fracking nor horizontal drilling is a new technology—they have been used in Michigan for many decades. None of the fracking that has been done in Michigan has resulted in a single water quality problem.

What might have been missed in the Governor’s statement is the distinction between hydraulic fracturing and horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

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Politics & Government
9:20 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Commentary: The transportation environment

Lessenberry essay 11/29/12

Someone once said that Americans will do anything for the environment except read about it or spend money on it.

I thought of that yesterday, when the governor delivered the latest in his series of special messages, this one on the environment.

Rick Snyder said we had to make better use of the resources we have, and called, among other things, for better recycling and for Michigan to develop a strategic national gas reserve.

Pretty much everyone nodded politely at most of what the governor said,  though not when he appeared to endorse fracking, at least so far as natural gas recovery is concerned.

However, I would be surprised if anyone in the legislature was still thinking about, much less talking about, what the governor said about the environment a week from now. In fact, the governor’s main priorities seem to be elsewhere, at least for the lame duck session.

But something else is going on in the Capitol that could be highly beneficial to the economic as well as the natural environment: Transportation reform. More than a year ago, the governor proposed a high-speed bus system for Metro Detroit. It was, and is, a great and politically brilliant idea. More than a third of the population of Detroit has no access to reliable private transportation, meaning cars.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Gov. Snyder gives energy and environment address

You can listen to today's Environment Report above or read the story below.

Governor Rick Snyder gave what his office calls a "special message" on the environment yesterday: Ensuring our Future: Energy and the Environment. He touched on all sorts of topics: renewable energy, brownfields, land and water, timber and mining and many others.

But his main point: you can’t separate economics from energy or the environment.

“There’s not two separate worlds. There’s not a world of just environment, nor a world of energy or economics. It’s a symbiotic relationship and they tie together,” he said.

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Politics & Government
7:16 am
Thu November 29, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snyder pushes renewable energy and drilling for natural gas

Governor Rick Snyder gave a special address on energy and the environment Wednesday. Highlights of his address include a push for more renewable energy and more drilling for natural gas. As the Lansing State Journal reports,

"The Republican governor gave natural gas a central role in an energy policy that seeks greater efficiency and improvements to infrastructure such as pipelines and the electric transmission grid. It proposes establishing a “strategic natural gas reserve” designed to make the resource more affordable and defends the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract gas from deep underground."

GOP pushing for right-to-work in lame duck

Republicans are still working to make Michigan a right-to-work state. This comes after voters rejected a ballot proposal to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution. As the Detroit News reports,

"Today could be the last chance to introduce a bill making union membership optional as a condition of employment in the private and public sectors to get it passed by Dec. 13. That's the day legislative leaders hope to head home for the holidays."

Sorry Michigan, no one won the Powerball jackpot in the state

"The Michigan Lottery says two Powerball tickets worth $1 million each were sold in the state. Officials say the tickets were sold at a liquor store in Kentwood and a CVS pharmacy in Dearborn. The Michigan tickets matched five numbers drawn last night, but not the Powerball number. Powerball officials said early Thursday that tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the $579.9 million jackpot," the AP repots.

Politics & Government
5:15 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Governor Snyder gives special address on energy and environment

Office of Governor Rick Snyder Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder covered topics ranging from urban farming to "fracking" in his special address on energy and the environment today.

He said the state should do more to deal with blight and encourage urban farming in cities with lots of vacant land.

The governor said too much abandoned property in Flint, Detroit, and other cities is going to waste when it could be put to a new use.

“And all I’ve seen in my two years as governor is a lot of discussion about right-to-farm, and urban farming,” said Snyder.

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Environment & Science
5:50 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Worried about fracking, citizens group sues the DNR

Steve Losher lives in Barry county, and he's worried. So worried, he and the rest of the citizens in the non-profit group called the Michigan Land Air Water Defense are suing the state. 

They're upset about what they believe could happen once the Department of Natural Resources auctions off the mineral rights to gaming areas in Barry and Allagen counties. It's a totally typical auction - the DNR does this kind of thing twice a year since about 1920. 

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Technology
4:24 pm
Sun September 2, 2012

Wayne State part of study on energy extraction

Gas hydrates, known as “ice that burns,” may provide a clean, sustainable fuel source in the future.
J. Pinkston and L. Stern U.S. Geological Survey

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit university is playing a role in early but promising efforts to find and extract new energy sources.

A research project at Wayne State University is among 14 across 11 states involved in work on methane hydrates. These are structures that look like ice but have natural gas locked inside.

The project builds on what the U.S. government calls a "successful, unprecedented" test on Alaska's North Slope that produced a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates.

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10:58 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Price fixing in Michigan land deals? Lawmakers call for action in investigation

Lead in text: 
A news investigation found two natural gas companies might have colluded when bidding on drilling rights in Michigan. Reuters obtained e-mails exchanged between officials from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Encana Corp. The paper says the e-mails show "that top executives of the two rivals plotted in 2010 to avoid bidding against each other in a state auction and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners." State lawmakers are pushing for resolution with an investigation.
Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:03am EDT (Reuters) - Two Michigan state representatives have called on officials there to step up their investigations into possible collusion between Chesapeake Energy Corp and Encana Corp, following a Reuters report that the energy rivals plotted to avoid bidding against each other in Michigan land deals.
Economy
5:26 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Reuters: Natural gas giants may have colluded in Michigan drilling lease grab

The Utica Shale, seen here, has recently become the target of gas and oil exploration by corporations like Encana and Chesapeake Energy.
Michael C. Rygel Wikipedia Creative Commons

Two of North America’s biggest natural gas corporations, Encana and Chesapeake Energy, are under scrutiny today after the Reuters news agency intercepted at least a dozen emails from 2010 between the competing companies that might show evidence of price-fixing in Michigan’s oil and gas lease market. 

Reuters alleges that the emails suggest top company officials discussed a plan to divide up counties in Michigan auctioning "prime oil- and gas-acreage" in order to avoid a costly bidding competition.

Both companies deny the allegation, though they admit to discussing the possibility of entering into a joint venture in Michigan.

Yesterday, Reuters reported:

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp and Encana Corp tumbled Monday after a Reuters investigation showed that top executives of the two rivals plotted in 2010 to avoid bidding against each other in a state auction and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners.

Following the report, the state of Michigan pledged to determine whether the two energy giants acted two years ago to suppress land prices there.

In Michigan, private land owners can sell the drilling rights on their properties, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources holds auctions to sell state-owned rights called "oil and gas leases" biannually.

Around 2008, this market gained national attention when the Utica and Collingwood Shale oil and natural gas fields drew interest as potential natural gas mother lodes in northeast Michigan. Companies looking to access the reserves thousands of feet underground through a new process called horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, started purchasing these rights. Bids for the drilling rights per acre soared to record highs in the May 2010 auction. 

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Environment & Science
6:24 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Signature collecting begins in earnest for anti-fracking petition drive

People who oppose a form of oil and gas drilling known as "fracking" are officially launching a petition drive to ban the practice in Michigan.

"Horizontal hydraulic fracturing" uses slant drilling to inject chemicals or water into rocks to fracture them, in order to extract oil or natural gas.

LuAnne Kozma is the campaign's director.

She says fracking uses toxic chemicals that can contaminate the water.

"Another huge concern is this deadly toxic gas called hydrogen sulfide gas, or H2S."

A spokesman for a company with exploratory wells in Michigan says the state has some of the most rigorous safety regulations in the nation for fracking.

Petition organizers must get more than 322,000 signatures by July 9, to get the issue on the November ballot.

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