Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash plans another in a series of town hall meetings to share information about health risks and other possible effects associated with a proliferation of oil and natural gas drilling leases could lead “fracking,” in several suburbs.
The next meeting, which is open to the public, will be from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at the Novi Public Library, 45255 W. 10 Mile Road. Nash has held more than a dozen similar meetings, reaching several thousand residents and concerned stakeholders, he said.
“This heavy industrial activity, in urban/suburban settings like ours, is full of risks to our water supplies, our air, our health, and our way of life,” Nash said in a statement. “I want people to know what may be coming to their neighborhoods.”
Fracking, the common term for slick water horizontal fracturing, drills wells up to 2 miles into the earth, then turns the drill bit horizontally to drill several more miles. The resulting well is then filled with millions of gallons of fresh water mixed with sand, salts and chemicals, subjected to bursts of intense pressure to loosen rock formations, which releases natural gas.
Over the past year, Jordan Development Co. and others have leased or purchased mineral rights on thousands of acres of land in Oakland County. Oil and gas companies have mineral rights across the state and new wells are expected soon in White Lake Township, Rochester Hills, and other areas in Oakland County, Nash said.
Next week’s meeting comes on the heels of legal action by a Rochester Hills citizens’ group Don’t Drill the Hills, which is suing that city for allowing gas and oil leases on city-owned parks and a cemetery.
The nonpartisan Don’t Drill the Hills group said a city-signed lease with Jordan Development Co. that allows it and West Bay Exploration Co. to use horizontal drilling to explore explore for, extract and sell natural gas an oil on the public lands violates the city’s charter, Michigan laws and public trust.
A voter-backed 2011 City Charter Amendment says city-owned parks cannot be sold, leased or converted to non-recreation or non-conservation uses without approval of the city’s voters in an open election, the group said. Don’t Drill the Hills maintains the city charter protects not just the surface of the park land in Rochester Hills, but also the entire property, including the subsurface resources.