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E-M:/ Antrim County Oil/Gas Planning Issues

Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com

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Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 14:27:51 +0000
From: "Arlin S. Wasserman" <arlin@traverse.com>
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Subject: Antrim County Supports Hydrocarbon Development Planning
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE								February 20, 1998
For additional information contact: 	Hans Voss at (616) 882-4723,
Michigan Land Use Institute	
						Arlin Wasserman at (616) 271-3683, Michigan Land Use Institute	
						John Hummer at (616) 533-5063, Friends of the Jordan River

Antrim County Board Calls for Better Planning of Oil and Gas
Resolution of Support Passes Unanimously

	The Antrim County Board of Commissioners has unanimously passed a
resolution urging the state to protect nine sensitive wastersheds and
the Lake Michigan coast from haphazard oil and gas development through a
more comprehensive planning process. In taking its action on February
12, Antrim County joined a growing chorus from around the state calling
on the Engler Administration to require hydrocarbon development plans to
protect the environment, communities and the land from wasteful oil and
gas industry practices.
	Since 1987, more than 6,000 wells have been drilled into the
gas-saturated Antrim Shale formation. The drilling occurred without a
cohesive plan to protect communities and northern Michigan’s rivers and
forests. In response, the Michigan Energy Reform Coalition, an alliance
of 25 local governments, property owners associations, and conservation
groups, started a statewide movement in 1995 to build citizen support
for stronger public oversight of oil and gas development.
	The Antrim County resolution was based on the conclusions drawn in the
Michigan Land Use Institute’s December, 1997 report, Rivers at Risk. The
report documents how a comprehensive planning program for the Pigeon
River State Forest allowed for the extraction of oil and gas worth more
than $400 million, while preserving two thirds of the forest for
wildlife and recreation. Despite this success, the approach not been
used anywhere else in the state.
	Rivers at Risk makes specific recommendations for how to conduct
comprehensive planning of oil and gas development. Key elements of the
proposal include:
•	Locations of well sites, access roads, pipelines, and processing
facilities will be coordinated with local land use plans.
•	Restricting development to safeguard sensitive natural areas.
•	Citizens and communities must have more input in the process.
•	Energy companies should share equipment and roads when possible in
order to minimize industrial infrastructure.
•	The state agencies that oversee oil and gas will be required
coordindate their activities.
	This reasoned approach has been endorsed by several state-sanctioned
committees. Since 1992, the Natural Resources Commission, Department of
Natural Resources, and the state legislature all have convened task
forces that recommended similar comprehensive planning approaches.
	Last fall, Governor Engler directed the Michigan Environmental Science
Board, a panel of the state’s top scientists, to evaluate oil and gas
drilling along the shoreline. The Board recommended that the state
prepare a comprehensive plan to protect sensitive natural features, and
that local land use concerns be addressed prior to any drilling. The
Board also recommended that the plan be created through a public process
with extensive community involvement.
	Rep. David Anthony (D-Escanaba), chair of the House Forestry and
Mineral Rights Committee, plans to introduce legislation requiring
hydrocarbon development planning. Rep. Anthony’s proposal also is based
on the recommendations in Rivers at Risk.

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