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Other People's Money

Hundreds of brokers for oil and gas companies are offering landowners in northern lower Michigan contracts to drill for natural gas. Energy companies are betting the access to deep shale gas reserves will pay off big. But landowners don't always know about the risks.

An exploratory well has produced good results from a new source of natural gas in northern lower Michigan. So, energy companies have hired agents, called landmen to go knocking on doors of private landowners, trying to get them to sign contracts to lease their land for drilling.

Bureau of Land Management

A regulatory agency in Michigan says it can handle a new type of drilling for natural gas. That's what regulators in other states said before complaints about water contamination and leaking gas started coming in.

Casey West

(By Kyle Norris) Gerry Bose has worked as paint contractor for much of his life in new construction. He actually painted the insides of a lot of new mc-mansions. But when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Bose lost 80% of his work. Since then he's laid off his two employees, and he's had to scramble for work as a painter.

But he's also had more time and energy to book jobs as a juggler.

Gerry Bose is setting up his show at the Grant Public Library, about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. Bose cracks-open what looks like a pirate chest.

Gerry Bose has worked as paint contractor for much of his life in new construction. He actually painted the insides of a lot of new mc-mansions. But when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Bose lost 80% of his work. Since then he's laid off his two employees, and he's had to scramble for work as a painter.

But he's also had more time and energy to book jobs as a juggler.

Gerry Bose is setting up his show at the Grant Public Library, about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. Bose cracks-open what looks like a pirate chest.

World Resources Institute

When the Great Lakes water levels fell a few years ago, people began thinking more about how much water we use. Now, this new kind of drilling, called horizontal hydraulic fracturing, again is causing concern about how we use water.

Water already has been used for vertical hydraulic fracturing in thousands of gas wells in Michigan. It takes about 50,000 gallons to drill each well and fracture shale layers underground to release the natural gas.

Horizontal fracturing, also called horizontal fracking, uses a hundred times more water.

Gas drilling rig in Appalachia
User Meridithw / Wikimedia Commons

What a fracking week on Michigan Radio!

Lester Graham of Michigan Watch and Rebecca Williams from the Environment Report are bringing us a series of reports on what might be a big part of Michigan's future: energy companies moving in and using a practice called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to get at gas deposits buried deep under Michigan.

Just how interested are energy companies in these gas deposits? Graham reports

James Hansen being arrested in Washington D.C.
Rainforest Action Network / Creative Commons

NASA Scientist James Hansen has been arrested in front of the White House. Hansen was participating in a protest against mountaintop removal coal mining. The Associated Press covered Hansen's arrest. The article said Hansen issued a statement saying mountaintop removal...

Lester Graham

Environmentalists are concerned drilling for new sources of natural gas in Michigan could contaminate water. They're basing that on reports from other states that blame a new method of drilling for contaminating their water.

This new kind of drilling is called horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Until recently in Michigan, it was only used in vertical wells. Drill down, pump water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into a layer of shale, fracture it and release the natural gas trapped there.

Creative Commons photo by user Meridithw

Michigan could be seeing the beginning of a new boom in drilling for natural gas. Leases for drilling rights are going for unheard of prices in northern-lower Michigan.

Drilling for natural gas in Michigan is not new. The first natural gas production began in the 1930s according to the Michigan Public Service Commission. Since then we've seen drilling booms come and go.

Next week we'll be airing special, live call-in shows with the candidates running for governor.  On Monday, from 9-10AM we'll hear from Democratic candidate Virg Bernero.  On Friday, also from 9-10AM, we'll hear from Republican nominee Rick Snyder.  Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Newtork's Lansing Bureau Chief, will host.  You can call-in and ask your questions at (877) 952-7870.

sun rays shining through clouds
Piccolo Namek / Creative Commons

Fall officially began on the 22nd. So far we've been treated with the Harvest Moon and warm weather. My kids even broke out the inflatable pool on Wednesday. They splashed around for 5 minutes before they gave up and asked for towels.

 President Obama discusses patient bill of rights in backyard
White House

New census data says 16.7% of Americans are without health insurance:

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009

But starting today, that will change for many without coverage, including young adults and kids with pre-existing conditions.

Dustin Dwyer

ArtPrize opened in Grand Rapids yesterday.  The huge art competition runs until October 10th.  There are some 1,700 artists competing for this year's prize.  As Dustin Dywer reports, just like last year, the winner will be decided by popular vote.

Regulators Give OK to Enbridge's Plan to Restart Pipeline

Wild boar
Photo by Richard Bartz / Creative Commons

Peter Payette from Interlochen Public Radio filed a report on wild pigs with the Environment Report this week.

Pigs and boars can escape from farms and game ranches and cause problems in an ecosystem. The problem is especially bad in southern states.

Check out this video about the problem in Texas:

In this morning's news...

Sep 22, 2010

Strong Storms Leave Thousands without Power

Eric Fischer

By using U.S. Census data, Eric Fischer has created a map that shows the racial integration of Detroit.  As Gawker.com explains, "one dot equals 25 people. The dots are then color-coded based on race: White is pink; Black is blue; Hispanic is orange, and Asian is green."   You can find the racial integration of other large U.S. cities here.

Corrections Budget Stalled

Center for Michigan

Here's an interesting post from FactCheck.org, "candidates have a legal right to lie to voters." It's protected speech. In fact, TV or radio stations running political ads they know to be false, can't refuse to run the ad.

That's why we need people like John Bebow from the Truth Squad and Lester Graham from Michigan Radio's Michigan Watch.

A Budget This Week (Maybe)

Legislative leaders in Lansing hope they can finalize the state's budget this week. By law the budget must be balanced by October 1st. It looks, as of now, that there are two issues holding up the budget negotiations: temporary amnesty for delinquent taxpayers and an early retirement proposal for state workers.

A Republican-led House?

With two weeks to go before the October 1st budget deadline, lawmakers are fighting over controversial science funding.  As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the budget remains in limbo over a deal on stem cell research funding for the state's 15 public universities.

NPR's Planet Money's toxic asset creature
NPR's Planet Money

The team at NPR's Planet Money has come up with another way for us to understand the financial crisis. They bought a pet.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Rob Steele for Congress website

Republican Dr. Robert Steele is challenging Democratic incumbent John Dingell in this year's election. Congressman Dingell represents Michigan's 15th district and is the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In this morning's news...

Sep 17, 2010

Kalamazoo River Clean Up Progressing

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Students are saying their classrooms are overcrowded this year. WDIV reports of some advanced placement classes with 60 students in them. 

It's like a race to get up there, and if you don't have a seat, you're just standing there for the whole hour. It's just tough. It's hard to see the board because everybody is in the way and I can't really focus on my work.

Says Mumford High School senior Glen Miller.

According to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, 14% of people in Michigan last year lived in poverty.  As the Detroit News reports that is, "the highest for the state since it hit 14.1 percent in 1994.'' Nationally, in 2009, the poverty rate was 14.3%.  That means 1 in 7 people, or 43.6 million Americans, lived in poverty last year.

Hearses in Hell

Sep 16, 2010
Chris Chan

The Associated Press reports, 

A Hell-based car club will try to set a world record for the longest procession of hearses.  Just Hearse'N Around will try to set a new Guinness World records mark... Saturday.  Club member Steve Frey says to qualify for the record, each of the expected 50-plus hearses must be driven in procession for just over two miles.

Marijuana plants
A7nubis / Creative Commons

The state's medical marijuana law is "inartfully drafted" according to Appellate Court Judge Peter O'Connell. O'Connell was quoted in a Detroit News article saying the law is so confusing that users "who proceed without due caution" could "lose both their property and their liberty."

Matthew G. Bisanz

A new poll released yesterday shows Republican Rick Snyder leading Democrat Virg Bernero in the race for Governor.  The EPIC-MRA poll surveyed 600 likely voters.  53% of respondents say they support Snyder, 29% favor Bernero and 15% say they are undecided.  The election is November 2nd.

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