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Ohio Utica Shale

Michigan is drafting new shale drilling regulations

By Bob Downing Published: October 23, 2013

From the Associated Press:

Companies using a procedure called hydraulic fracturing to pull oil and natural gas from deep underground in Michigan would have to take extra steps to protect ground and surface waters under regulations outlined Tuesday.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it's proposing new rules for the operation commonly known as "fracking" and expects to implement them next year.

DEQ Director Dan Wyant said the agency developed the ideas during more than 200 public meetings over the past two years. "We heard loud and clear that there is a growing concern about fracturing," he said. "We feel we have the strongest regulatory program in the country. This is just making it stronger."

 Some are gathering petition signatures seeking a statewide referendum on banning it.

The oil and gas industry and the DEQ say the procedure has been used on more than 12,000 Michigan wells since 1952 with no groundwater contamination.

Drillers recently have targeted deeper rock formations up to 12,000 feet below the surface. A Canadian company has said it eventually could drill up to 500 wells in Michigan. Nineteen "high-volume" wells, using more than 100,000 gallons of water and chemicals, have been completed statewide.

Wyant said the DEQ will take public comments on the new rules and could put them in place within six to nine months.

They would require companies doing high-volume fracking to use a state computer tool to assess whether the volume of groundwater they'd use would damage rivers or streams. Drillers would have to sample water from wells within a quarter-mile of their operations before starting and monitor them afterward for signs of pollution.

Other requirements would include filing separate applications for high-volume fracking permits, notifying the DEQ at least 48 hours before a fracking operation starts, monitoring fluid pressures and injection volumes and halting the process if something goes wrong.

Additionally, operators would have to disclose which chemical additives they use in an online registry. For those with trade secret protection, the chemical family and trade name could be provided.

The proposed regulations "look workable and we'd be glad to work with the DEQ to get through the rulemaking process," said John Griffin, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan.

The Michigan Environmental Council wants more details but likes the requirements for increased disclosure of chemicals and baseline water sampling, policy director James Clift said.

Nic Clark, Michigan director of Clean Water Action, said the proposed rules are "a drop in the bucket when you think about the potential risks associated with fracking." His group favors bills pending in the Legislature that would, among other things, require locating fracking wells at least 1,000 feet from houses, schools and other public buildings and allow local governments to regulate fracking operations.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.