An overflow crowd filled a public meeting last night in Brooklyn, south of Jackson. Many in the crowd are worried about the environmental impact of a growing oil drilling operation in the Irish Hills.
"There is nothing they can do here to keep from having an accident...It's going to happen," proclaimed one of the people in the audience.
The crowd at the public meeting demanded answers from a panel of oil industry executives and state officials about drilling going on in the Irish Hills. The region is becoming one of the leading crude oil production centers in Michigan.
Tim Baker is a vice president with West Bay Exploration, the company doing much of the drilling. He admits they need to do a better job explaining how they are trying to drill safely.
“These people have a lot of good questions. This is a beautiful area. There’s a lot of beautiful lakes and streams here," Baker said after the meeting, "We wanted to communicate to them that we are trying to develop (the oil) the best way possible.”
Many Irish Hills residents are worried oil drilling may end up lowering their property values.