Washtenaw judge dismisses lawsuit to block oil drilling project

Jul 23, 2014

A judge in Washtenaw County today dismissed a lawsuit to prevent oil drilling in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards wants to stop West Bay Exploration from drilling. So it sued the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for what it calls an "unfair and faulty" permitting process.

An oil well.
An oil well.
Credit morguefile

But the judge ruled that he had no jurisdiction over the case. He said Ingham County is the appropriate court.

Arthur Siegal represents the non-profit group. He said West Bay could start drilling within a week.

"Realistically that would be their fastest timeline now and they may have given notice we haven’t checked in the last day or two," he said. "When they do, that would start that clock, which is what we we're trying to delay while the court took a hard look at what was being done." 

Siegal said he plans to re-file the lawsuit within the next couple weeks.

 "This is the beginning, not the end," said the group's Laura Robinson.  

The group worries oil drilling could pollute the air and water supply. It's also worried the project would spoil the landscape.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom