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Posted on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

University of Michigan to hold town hall on future of fracking in the state

By Amy Biolchini


A natural gas rig near Montrose, Penn. The Montrose area and Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania are some of the earliest epicenters of shale gas drilling.

Courtesy of U-M School of Engineering

The University of Michigan will be hosting a town hall meeting next Tuesday on the future prospects for the environmentally controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state.

The "Fracktopia" town hall is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. April 16 in the Blau Auditorium in the Ross School of Business at 701 Tappan Ave. in Ann Arbor.

Lester Graham, an investigative reporter with Michigan Radio, will be moderating the event.


Lester Graham

Courtesy of Michigan Radio

The event includes the screening of a short documentary, "Fracktopia," that was compiled by the U-M College of Engineering and was published online Wednesday.

A panel discussion also will include the following speakers:

  • Brian Ellis, assistant professor in U-M's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Erik Bauss, Michigan field director for Energy in Depth
  • Hugh McDiarmid Jr., communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council
  • Bill Mitchell, senior geologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

The event will be streamed online in a live webcast.

Hydraulic fracturing is an industry practice used to extract fossil fuels from the ground. A classified mix of chemicals, sand and water is pumped deep into the ground at high pressures to fracture thin barriers of rock in between pockets of natural gas or oil.

Researchers from U-M are conducting an impact study on the effects of fracking on people and the environment in Michigan.

Fracking became a hot topic in Washtenaw County about a year ago when residents feared the practice would be associated with a company seeking land leases for mineral rights in Lodi and Saline townships.

The company, Paxton Resources, publicly stated they were not fracking their oil wells in Washtenaw County, but could not promise that it would never happen.

As Paxton has continued to expand its holdings in Washtenaw County with a number of permits pending for new oil wells this year, the company still says fracking is not a practice it is using in the county.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

wow! I plan on going to the meeting in Ann Arbor on the 16th to learn more about fracking there is a lot I don't know after reading all your comments. I have a cottage in northern Michigan (Kalkaska area) and there are 13 new wells going in over the next few years added to what is already there. I was wondering if all this water that they use for the fracking has any impact on the lake water levels. We have seen major drops in the water levels over the past few years. (Six to eight feet horizontally in one year.) Many of our lakes are spring fed and I wondered if this effects the aquifer.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Water is the next oil but only if it is drinkable. When all others pollute their groundwater if we can be farsighted enough to keep our abundance of water clean, Michigan will the profit in the future. Short term gains over clean long term gains and perhaps the survival of our species are worthy of a discussion.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 7 p.m.

reposting plume map --


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Mike your are very wrong ! I urge people to click on the above Live Mlive chat thread with MOGA (Michigan oil and gas) and read every peice of information ! Our own DEQ officials have told us for a few years now this has been going on in Michigan for 50 plus years and 12,000 wells have been "fracked" this is not the truth . What has gone on here is vertical well stimulation this "fracking for shale gas" is totally new to our state . Why would they mislead the public trying to piggy back one technology to a new one ? The gas wells are also one thing the disposal of fresh water is another this water (millions of gallons per frack) is used not recoverable and disposed of out of our hydro cycle for good look up deep well injection . Ann Arbor itself has had contamination problems from "old technology" anyone know about Gellman Pall Science and the 1 mile wide by 3 mile plume of dioxane and no water use zone ??? This is not proven technology go to Pennslyvanias DEP page and simply type in Cabot oil and gas and read away . Here is a document to get you started :, and here is the map of the Gellman Pall Plume ,mind you this did not contaminate its first well until the mid 80's or so now 123 wells are useless --


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Mike your declaration of no ground water contamination is false unless of course your just using the industry safe word of fracking. There have been numerous cases of ground, soil and air contamination attributed to development of these wells, compressor stations and pipelines and since you can't have one without the others they are all combined. Right now they are having a problem figuring out what to do with all the waste from these wells which includes radioactive material and arsenic along with the long host of toxic chemicals used to do the wells. I don't know about anyone else but I think the purity of our water is more important then doing these wells especially when a large percent of it will be exported if industry and paid for by industry politicians have their way. This is not about American energy independence. China has bought lease rights, Japan is installing a pipeline, Saudi Arabia is building a refinery here and along with China I believe there are at least five other countries that have drilling rigs on our soil. I was at a meeting last night where people were sharing some of the problems they are having with wells going up around them. One woman wakes up every morning with blood clumps from her nose when they are flaring, the dust and noise pollution leave people unable to go out of their houses to do yard work or let their children play. Numerous leaks from these wells that go undetected from the DEP/EPA that are allowing fluids to seep into the ground and get airborne. For those of you that think that a hand full of jobs are more important then people's health then shame on you.

Dog Guy

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Have they rented Groucho's "secret word" descending duck for the occasion?


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

Not one EPA documented case on groudwater contamination and this is a big deal because.................


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Wrong, actually. "For the first time, federal environmental regulators have made a direct link between the controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination."