Huron County Commissioners! Vote 7-0, pass resolution to officially say absolutely no fracking: “Huron County Board of Commissioners opposes fracking in Huron County and the state of Michigan and begs our representatives to recognize the risks of fracking and outlaw this dangerous practice before a catastrophic event occurs.”

Why are these commissioners not concerned with how to define fracing like the Nova Scotia government is?

Fracking continues to scare local leaders by Chris Aldridge, May 19, 2016, Huron Daily Tribune
Fracking isn’t going over well with Huron County officials.

“The more you look into it, the scarier it gets,” said Scott Boshart, Bad Axe’s director of public works.

This week, County Commissioner John Nugent invited Boshart to speak on hazards of fracking, which taps underground oil or gas formations using pressurized water and chemicals to fracture rock layers and release oil or gas reserves.

Commissioners have considered banning fracking in Huron County, citing concern for groundwater and air contamination, especially of Huron’s 93-mile shoreline.

Nugent says it’s a concern because most of the county relies on wells. Fracking, or the potential for it in other counties, could affect Huron County because the county gets groundwater from Cass City and not the lake as one might think, Commissioner Clark Elftman said last month.

The 2006 Michigan Zoning Enabling Act prohibits counties and townships from regulating or controlling oil and gas well drilling.

“We’re unprotected when it comes to fracking in Huron County,” Nugent said in March (

Boshart says he has over 20 years’ experience as a water and wastewater administrator. He referenced a well that was fracked in Kalkaska County in 2012, which reportedly used 21 million gallons of water.

“They drilled two more wells after that for another 21 million gallons,” he said.

For perspective: the city of Bad Axe uses about 300,000 gallon of water per day.

“To process these wells, it took about 140 days’ worth of the city of Bad Axe’s water,” Boshart said, adding that water used in the city goes back into aquifers.

“These guys, the water they use basically becomes toxic,” he said.

Treating the water at a wastewater plant doesn’t work, so a solution the state tried was to drill a new well and pump wastewater back down at high pressure, Boshart said, which he says creates an underground mess near already broken rock layers that protect aquifers.

“That water’s going to show back up some place,” he said.

“Once they mess up our aquifers, we can pretty much kiss individual wells goodbye. … It’s not going to be something like Flint where we’ll put a filter on your tap and you should be OK until we get our problem straightened out. This thing’s kind of permanent.”

The chemical ratio used in the mixture to frack also is concerning to Boshart.

“We can’t put any more than 4 parts per million of chlorine in your water to keep it disinfected,” he said. “These guys can go 8,000 parts per million, on average, of chemicals.”

Boshart told commissioners they need to “be out in front of this,” suggesting they contact Huron’s state legislators.

“There’s just nothing good about it,” Board Chair John Bodis said of fracking.

There’s also a threat to the Great Lakes, Boshart said, because normal wastewater treatment plants can’t filter the water used in fracking.

“There’s all this squawk about wind turbines; I’d rather deal with wind turbines than fracking,” he said.

“It really doesn’t look like there’s any benefit to anybody other than the oil and gas industry.”

Last year, there were 12 oil and gas leases filed in Huron County, according to the Register of Deeds Office, which says there have been more than 300 leases recorded since 2010. Officials say no county wells have actually been fracked, but there are some slated for fracking in Tuscola County.

However, fracturing “has never jeopardized the environment or public health,” according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Gas and oil operators have been fracking around the country since the 1940s, and in Michigan, some 12,000 wells have been fractured over the past 50 years, the DEQ says.

Gov. Rick Snyder, in a special message on energy last year, said fracking has continued in Michigan at 10,000 wells “without any real problems.”

Studies examining hydraulic fracturing are ongoing. [Emphasis added]

County commissioners say absolutely no to fracking by Bradley Massman, June 15, 2016, Huron Daily Tribune

It’s been a hot topic county officials have discussed in recent months, but this week the commissioners made their stance official.

Fracking is a mining technique used to shatter subsurface shale rock to release oil and gas. It destabilizes the underlying shale, which can result in man-made earthquakes.

Previously, commissioners have considered banning fracking in Huron County because of the concern for groundwater and air contamination.

“I’m opposed to fracking and I think it’s a serious threat to our drinking water and our irrigation water, if fracking occurs in Huron County,” said Commissioner John Nugent. “There’s been too many problems associated with it and I just hope the board gives its full support with this resolution.”

In a 7-0 vote of support, commissioners passed a resolution at this week’s board meeting to officially state its opposition to fracking technology.

The resolution, in part, states:

“… Huron County Board of Commissioners opposes fracking in Huron County and the state of Michigan and begs our representatives to recognize the risks of fracking and outlaw this dangerous practice before a catastrophic event occurs.”

The final decision on fracking sits with the state, Bodis added, and the state is not likely going to give the county authority over it.

“If you’re inclined to sign a lease, make sure you read it carefully,” Bodis said, explaining land owners need to fully read over property lease agreements before signing on the dotted line. “Ultimately, that responsibility on that issue falls on those people who sign the lease.”

Commissioner Clark Elftman told the board he recently spoke with Sen. Phil Pavlov and State Rep. Ed Canfield and they both oppose fracking.

“The simplest way to put it is don’t sign the lease. Then we won’t have the issue,” Bodis said.

“We also need the other counties on board because what happens there could affect us,” Bodis added. “I can’t imagine why you’d do that (fracking) when we’re surrounded by the largest bodies of fresh water.” [Smart county commissioners!]

After each commissioner signed the resolution, a copy was forwarded to all Michigan counties, Gov. Rick Snyder, Pavlov, Canfield and the Michigan Association of Counties. [Emphasis added]

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