Gas and Oil Update

November 4, 2019

Dear Editor:

There are a number of gas and oil operations planned for this area. I have updates on two of these projects.

Muskegon Development – Fresh water injection for “enhanced oil recovery” near North Athey and East Townline Lake Road (Permit No. MI-035-2R-0034; UIC Appeal No. 18-05)

On April 29, the E.A.B. (Electronic Appeals Board of the E.P.A.) issued a partial remand of the Muskegon Development permit. Although the E.A.B. denied most challenges, it did find grounds for a partial remand of the permit for two reasons:

  1. The E.P.A. failed to adequately respond to a number of comments about this project.
  2. The E.P.A. failed to adequately explain its Environmental Justice guidelines when issuing the permit.

On September 26, the EPA issued a remanded response. The EPA cited operational and “safety” regulations and argued that the studies mentioned in the Petition for Review did not apply to this well because many of these studies were from the Marcellus Shale.

On Friday, October 25, I submitted a response brief asking for the permit to be denied. Among other things, I argued that the wells were unsafe and the studies did apply. In fact, I contacted the Professor Emeritus of Cornell University who authored a report on well failures that was cited in the response. He personally assured me the statistics used in his study (which demonstrate, among other things, that at least 1 in 20 wells experience failures within the first year of operation) do apply because well construction, materials, maintenance, operation, etc. are all done according to industry standards and that most of these practices are universal to modern wells. I even included his personal cell phone number in my response and urged the E.A.B. to contact him if it had any questions.

Jordan Development – Disposal well near Chapel Dam and Eaton Road (Permit number MI-051-2D-0031; UIC Appeal Nos. 18-06, 18-07, 18-08, 18-09)

Although a number of challenges were made to this permit, on August 8, the E.A.B. denied all challenges on technical and procedural grounds. It looks like this is the end of the road with the E.P.A.; however, it could still be possible to stop it at the State or Local level. And certainly protests and demonstrations are an option (For quite a while, there were weekly demonstrations against a certain local adult establishment in the area. Whatever your personal views on strip clubs, women taking off their clothing for money is arguably less dangerous to the community than injection wells that can poison your ground water…).

Overall thoughts:
My experience with the Petition for Review process is that the regulators at the E.P.A. don’t know their own regulations and guidelines. Nor do they care. This is by design. It is also painfully obvious that this entire process is little more than a cruel joke meant to convey the ILLUSION of public participation while still allowing these companies to do whatever they want.

I’m also very disappointed that the E.P.A. flat-out lied dozens of times during these reviews, especially in its responses to comments. I know I should expect “our” government to lie, but it’s disappointing nevertheless.

Clare County and Gladwin County are being targeted by the Oil and Gas Industry. They covet our water for operations, and they covet our ground for disposal of toxic waste. If we don’t stop them, they will poison us.

As always, keep reading the announcement sections of all the local papers, as the Oil and Gas Industry is still required to notify the community before the E.P.A. rubber stamps their projects.

Emerson Joseph Addison
Unemployed English Teacher (according to the New York Times)

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