Fracking and Michigan's water supply

Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Fracking and Michigan
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - New rules approved in Lansing a few weeks ago are designed to soothe the concerns of people worried about the effects that fracking for oil and gas will have on our environment.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's nice to have more information about what is being done in our state and elsewhere, but it doesn't make the effect on the environment any less scary.

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In fact...the new rules don't do a whole lot more than confirm what critics already thought was happening.

Just to get it out of the way, and most of you already know this: fracking is short for "hydraulic fracturing." It's the process of extracting oil and gas from miles deep in the earth by injecting a high-pressure mix of water and chemicals to fracture the rock and free it up.

It sounds ho-hum, but it's a pretty ruthless undertaking.

It takes unbelievable amounts of fresh water to get the job done. Water that can never be used again for human consumption.

Here's an example: a well drilled in Kalkaska County a year-and-a-half ago used 21 million gallons of it. When it comes time to extend the well, they'll use even more.

21 million gallons! One well.

And while Pennsylvania has pretty much been the poster state for the fracking industry, Michigan is now in the cross hairs.

And why not? We're a peninsula. We've got water!

In Barry County three years ago, oil companies signed leases for 81 wells.

Within a year that number had doubled.

There are a number of them scheduled to go in Ionia County.

According to the Detroit Free Press, there are tens of thousands of property owners across the state who have signed leases.

And for every well drilled, millions upon millions of gallons of fresh water used, contaminated, and pumped underground for safe keeping.

One fracking critic, Joe Curry, a water driller from Holly, told the Free Press that the fracking process risks contaminating underground water sources, creates air pollution from the chemicals used,  and converts almost incomprehensible amounts of fresh water into toxic waste.

How much water? Well, from January of 2011 to August of 2012--a 20-month stretch--the United States lost 66 billion gallons of water to frack 35,000 wells.

That's enough to provide all the water needed annually for 40 to 80 cities with populations of 50-thousand people.

Much of it in already water-stressed areas--and none of it ever to be used by a human being again.

And we're just getting started.

Guess who uses more water: Farmers? Or frackers? And we're just getting started.

I know we need to assert oil independence. We can't forever rely on oil from politically unstable regions of the world.

I know we have to get to work and take our vacations and wait for deliveries by planes, trucks, and automobiles.

I also know that the oil and gas industry would love to keep things just the way they are. They're making tons of money. And they have tons of clout in every legislative chamber in the country.

But we have simply got to step up our research in how to extract more usable power from reusable sources like the sun, and wind, and waves, and heat from the core of the earth.

If we don't, there will come a time when the lines from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner will take on a whole new meaning: "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink."

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 03, 2015 07:28 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) ---- There are two government economic reports due out today. Both of them are from the Commerce Department. One report deals with personal income and spending data for June. The other report looks at June's construction spending.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for July as well.

Also today, automakers will report on vehicle sales in the month of July.

FIAT CHRYSLER-RECALL

Dodge Chargers recalled; door slam can make air bags inflate

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 322,000 sedans worldwide because side air bags can inflate if doors are slammed too hard.

The recall covers certain Dodge Chargers from the 2011 to 2014 model years, mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this month, more than 843,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks were recalled for the same problem. The company says the Charger recall came from an internal investigation launched because of the truck recall.

Fiat Chrysler says the air bag control modules may be too sensitive and need to be recalibrated. The company says it knows of three minor injuries from the problem.

Owners will be notified when they can bring cars in for repairs. In the meantime, the company says people should use caution when closing doors.

FIAT CHRYSLER-HACKING

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Harman car radios following a recent recall of 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks due to a hacking vulnerability.

Hackers got into a Jeep Cherokee SUV through an electronic opening in the radio and were able to take control of the car over the Internet. The vulnerability, exposed by two security experts and well-known hackers, was first disclosed in Wired magazine.

In response, Fiat Chrysler said it sealed off a loophole in its internal cellular telephone network with vehicles to prevent similar attacks and issued a voluntary recall.

The NHTSA is investigating which other cars have the affected radios and whether they are vulnerable.

VERIZON-LABOR TALKS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Verizon and unions representing workers in nine states said employees will work without a contract as more negotiations are scheduled.

The wireless carrier and leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced the decision early Sunday, shortly after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired.

The unions say they are prepared to schedule regular bargaining sessions, but that they will leave the sites of their round-the-clock negotiations in Philadelphia and Rye, New York.

Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, says the company is "disappointed" it was unable to reach an agreement with the unions despite "six weeks of good faith bargaining and a very strong effort by the company." However, he says Verizon representatives will continue to meet with union leaders.

The unions say the telecom giant is demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concession on pensions.

EARNS-HSBC

HONG KONG (AP) -- HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe's biggest bank, says that strong performance in Asia helped to boost first-half profit by 10 percent. The bank also announced the sale of its Brazil business for $5.2 billion.

Profit for the six months ending June 30 rose to $13.6 billion, or 48 cents per share. The bank, which is listed on stock exchanges in Hong Kong and London, says revenue rose 4 percent from a year earlier to $30.8 billion.

CEO Stuart Gulliver cited growth in commercial banking in Hong Kong and Britain and in wealth management in Asia.

HSBC announced it is selling its business in Brazil to Banco Bradesco SA as part of plans announced in June to simplify its sprawling global operations. HSBC said it would keep an operation in Brazil to serve major corporate customers.

HSBC operates in 70 countries and has about 51 million customers.

The June plans call for the London-based bank to cut about 10 percent of its workforce, or some 25,000 jobs, and reduce annual expenses by $4.5-$5 billion.

The bank also has says it plans to sell its operations in Turkey.

AT&T-TV AND WIRELESS

AT&T, as new owner of DirecTV, offers TV-wireless package

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T is unveiling a new package that combines traditional TV and wireless services as it seeks to broaden its offerings following its $48.5 billion purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV about a week ago.

The change isn't huge, given that AT&T and DirecTV already had cross-marketing deals as separate companies.

But Monday's announcement is "the first step of what's to come," according to Brad Bentley, AT&T's chief marketing officer for entertainment and Internet services.

Bentley said AT&T is planning several products to integrate mobile phone and TV services but he wouldn't provide details on those plans.

The package announced Monday largely amounts to a $10-a-month discount for getting TV and wireless services at any level on the same bill. Bentley said customers also would have a single number to call for customer service, and employees at AT&T stores would be able to set up customers' phones so that they could start watching TV through apps right away, even before service is installed in the living room.

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL-INVESTIGATION

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A special prosecutor says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted on felony charges accusing the Republican of misleading investors before taking office.

Kent Schaffer, a Houston defense attorney appointed by a judge to the case, told The New York Times on Saturday that Collin County grand jurors indicted Paxton on two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a lesser charge of not registering.

The most serious allegations are that he encouraged investment in a tech startup that's now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges stem from activity before Paxton took office in January. Paxton was fined last year for not disclosing to Texas securities regulators he was getting commissions for soliciting investors.

TRUMP-DC HOTEL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump's organization is suing celebrity chef Jose Andres for backing out of a hotel project in Washington.

Andres had planned to open a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel. Trump's organization was selected by the federal government to renovate the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue and turn it into a luxury hotel.

Andres announced last month that he was canceling plans to open the restaurant, citing what he called Trump's disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Andres is an immigrant from Spain.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Washington says Andres' decision has already cost Trump's organization millions of dollars. It says Andres signed a lease that obligated him to build a restaurant in the space and pay rent for 10 years.

BOX OFFICE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The stakes may be high for Ethan Hunt and his team in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," but it was hardly impossible for the Tom Cruise pic to conquer the box office.

The fifth installment in the nearly 20-year-old film series has earned $56 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It's the second-highest opening for a "Mission" film since "Mission Impossible II" took in $57 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2000.

The Paramount and Skydance Productions film cost a reported $150 million to produce and should have no problem making up its budget, especially with overseas earnings.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' "Vacation" has gone off track. The poorly reviewed, $30 million film earned $14.9 million over the weekend, and $21.2 million since opening Wednesday.

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