When asked about the issue of hydraulic fracturing, many people in Michigan are not really sure where they stand. Interestingly, that’s exactly the same position that the anti-fracking activists in our state have also staked out.
At a recent town hall meeting in Hastings, three presenters answered questions from the audience on the topic of hydraulic fracturing. Jim Peters, a civil engineer and operations manager from Northstar Energy with 33 years of experience, represented the industry. The Department of Environmental Quality was represented by Bill Mitchell, a geologist. The Environmental Council, an “umbrella” organization of dozens of smaller environmental groups, was represented by policy director James Clift.
After the event, I asked Mr. Clift if the Council supported Ban Michigan Fracking’s petition to prohibit hydraulic fracturing. His answer? “No.” (The Council supports additional regulations on shale development, which, while they would be costly and in many cases unnecessary, nonetheless represent a position that facilitates a solutions-oriented discussion about oil and gas.)
When I told people outside the event collecting signatures to ban fracking that even the Michigan Environmental Council disagreed with them, they were left in disbelief.
“Really?” asked one of the activists, “I didn’t know that.” “Who did you say?” asked another. “I wonder why not?” remarked a third.
But the most interesting response came from a particularly candid activist.
“It doesn’t matter, we don’t really expect to get a ban anyway, we are making a point.”
They don’t expect to get a ban? They just want to make point? Really?!
Clearly, it doesn’t bother these folks that they’re trying to cripple our state’s economy and hamper domestic energy production. They are, by their own admission, spreading the myth of permanent environmental damage all just to “make a point.”
Even more upsetting is that these same activists are scoring headlines and press attention for their efforts as if they’re interested in some sort of substantive policy change. But in reality, they’re pushing this message with the press purely for the purpose of getting attention from the media – that is, when they’re not busy bullying and intimidating reporters.
A similar situation played out at the Mecosta County fair, where activists were also trying to get signatures to ban fracking. When I informed the booth occupant that the materials they were using were inaccurate (i.e. “fracking WILL devastate the environment on an unprecedented scale”; “fracking WILL turn public recreation lands and state treasures into private industry assets, the damage will take centuries, if ever, to heal”), his response was incredible:
“Well, I really don’t know about all of this stuff….I was asked to work the booth for a couple of hours.”
As the discussion continued, he became more and more uncomfortable, and as more people started to stop and listen, he finally said he had to go. He closed the stand, packed up his stuff, and left!
How do we know the “ban fracking” agenda is divorced from reality? Not only has the largest organized environmental group in the state distanced itself from the effort, but many of the adherents themselves aren’t even interested in achieving the stated goal. Meanwhile, the folks tasked with obtaining signatures admit that they “don’t know about all of this stuff.”
The people of Michigan deserve better than to have the wool pulled over their eyes by activists whose interests lie in only one thing: promoting themselves.