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E-M:/ Mason Tract Drilling

Enviro-Mich message from Lowell D Corbin <ufat2@juno.com>

I was asked to post this on the list. --  Lowell

Contact: Patricia Spitzley (517) 241-7397 
Agency: Environmental Quality 

DEQ Announces Public Meeting on Proposed Gas Well Near Mason Tract 

July 24, 2003

The DEQ, in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service and Michigan
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), has scheduled a public meeting on
August 18 to listen to comments and concerns about a gas well proposed to
be drilled near the Mason Tract in Crawford County. The meeting will be
held from 7 to 9 pm at the Holiday Inn in Grayling, located at 2650 South
I-75 Business Loop.

"Currently Michigan law does not require public meetings for oil and gas
well permits. However, the unique location of this proposed site,
combined with the substantial public interest generated, compels us to
provide a forum where the public can be heard," said DEQ Director Steven

On May 5, 2003, Savoy Energy applied for a permit from the DEQ to drill
the proposed USA State South Branch 1-8 well. A Federal drilling permit
application was also filed with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Savoy
proposes to drill the 11,000-foot deep well at a site about one half mile
east of the South Branch of the Au Sable River, with the hope of
producing natural gas. The DEQ has up to 70 days to issue or deny a
permit. On July 15, the DEQ issued a letter to Savoy Engineering
indicating that its permit application was deficient.

The United States owns the land and the oil and gas rights at the
proposed drilling site, and issued leases for oil and gas exploration and
production. The proposed well would be directionally drilled, with the
bottom of the well about 1000 feet to the west of the drilling site. In
January 1999, the state of Michigan leased 240 acres of oil and gas
rights within the area and would share in any income from natural gas
production from the well.

The drilling site is 800 feet east of the Mason Tractóa 5,000-acre block
of contiguous state-owned land on either side of the South Branch Au
Sable River. The Mason Tract is managed as an area where the public can
enjoy a relatively undeveloped natural environment and recreational

All oil and gas wells must receive a permit from the DEQ before they can
begin construction. The DEQ is currently reviewing the permit application
in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, U. S. Bureau of Land
Management and the DNR. The agencies are evaluating the possible impacts
of drilling and production activities, including noise and odors. The
cooperating agencies are also investigating whether there are feasible
alternative locations for the well, and for production equipment if

Once DEQ approves a permit, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau
of Land Management will complete an environmental assessment, which will
include additional opportunity for public comment, to determine the
suitability of the site and assess environmental impacts. In addition,
the Federal agencies may set conditions for drilling and production
operations on federal lands.

"The permitting process is a delicate balancing act," said DEQ Director
Steven Chester. "While we recognize the need to secure natural gas, the
DEQ has a responsibility to assure that the unique natural resource
values in this area, which include the Mason Tract, are adequately
protected. We will make sure that alternative locations are considered
and that all appropriate resources to protect the environment are fully

Editorís note: DEQ news releases are available on the departmentís
Internet home page at www.michigan.gov/deq.

Revised July 24, 2003 by Pat Watson

A UFAT message from:
Lowell D. Corbin
Co-Chair: Environmental Action Committee
Michigan Audubon Society

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