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Comment Period on New MI Injection Well Rules Set to Close


Friday, May 18, 2018   

LANSING, Mich. – A public comment period ends Friday on new rule changes for the oversight of injection wells in Michigan.

The Department of Environmental Quality says the proposal would strengthen and clarify requirements for wells used in the injection of fluids from fracking and streamline the permitting process. But there's some opposition from environmental groups, including Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Its president, Peggy Case, warns the changes would take the EPA out of the permitting process, making DEQ the primary granter of permits. Case contends the DEQ is more interested in protecting the industry than the environment.

"The DEQ is in a cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry that's going to allow the state of Michigan to become a toxic waste dump,” says Case. “They are providing every opportunity for fracking to take place when it can, and for the oil and gas industry to dump whatever they need to dump."

Case explains with the changes, fracking waste from other states also could be dumped in Michigan.

The DEQ says complications in the federal permitting process can cause delays of up to two years, creating a burden on operators who must reapply for state permits that expire during that time. Public comments on the rule changes will be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday.

Case was among more than a dozen opponents of the changes at a public hearings on the matter this week. She's also concerned that the Supervisor of Wells would have too much power over injection-well decisions.

"There should be, of course, much more public power, much more public scrutiny of these things,” says Case. “It's all kind of done behind closed doors. You can access some of the information if you want to spend hours poring over their website. But it's a tedious process and most citizens, of course, are not going to engage in that."

Others at the hearing voiced concerns about wells being permitted in sensitive formations, such as the Karst in Monroe County, which could threaten drinking water. Case notes the rule changes do include improvements that make regulations somewhat tighter, but her group contends they should be much more in line with protecting the environment.

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