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E-M:/ Oil and Gas Proposal Supported

Enviro-Mich message from Michigan Land Use Institute <mlui@traverse.com>

February 26, 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 Watershed

Resolution of Support Passes Unanimously

	The Antrim County Board of Commissioners has unanimously passed a
resolution urging the state to protect nine sensitive watersheds 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
	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:
•	Coordinating the locations of well sites, access roads, pipelines, and
processing facilities with local land use plans.
•	Restricting development to safeguard sensitive natural areas.
•	Giving citizens and communities more input in the process.
•	Requiring energy companies to share equipment and roads, when possible,
in order to minimize industrial infrastructure.
•	Requiring state agencies that oversee oil and gas to coordinate their
	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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