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Push to Ban Fracking in MI Gains Steam

Supporters of a measure to ban fracking have until Nov. 11 to obtain the signatures required to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot. Photo courtesy of Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan.
Supporters of a measure to ban fracking have until Nov. 11 to obtain the signatures required to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot. Photo courtesy of Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan.
August 3, 2015

CHARLEVOIX, Mich. - Michiganders could have the chance to decide whether or not hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should be legal in the state, if activists are able to collect enough signatures in the coming months.

In 2012 and 2013, groups opposed to fracking attempted to gather enough signatures to put a measure to ban the oil and gas drilling practice on a statewide ballot. LuAnne Kozma, the campaign director for the Committee to Ban Fracking, says she believes the third time will be the proverbial charm.

"We know the people of Michigan want to protect the state and want to protect our water," says Kozma. "They see what's going on in other states, they've heard, they're reading, and they're getting more informed."

Fracking involves deep drilling and high-pressure liquid injection into the earth to extract gas. Proponents say it allows more use of natural gas at a better price, but opponents cite contamination concerns over radioactive waste that comes from fracking, The group must collect more than 250,000 valid signatures in order to get the issue on the November 2016 ballot.

The ballot initiative would also ban other states from dumping fracking waste in Michigan, a practice Kozma says is in direct opposition to the respect for water that most residents of the Great Lakes state share.

"It's not just a matter of contamination from some accidental spill, but it's the use of water and intentionally contaminating it with these chemicals and with the sand in the frack fluid to begin with," says Kozma.

The Michigan Sierra Club recently announced it is throwing its support and its volunteers behind the effort. New York and Vermont have both enacted statewide bans on fracking, while local ordinances prohibit the practice in many areas.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI