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 March 30, 2015 07:27 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's all about the consumer and housing early this week.

Today, the Commerce Department will release personal income and spending for February and the National Association of Realtors will report on pending home sales index for February.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's will issue the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for January and the Conference Board will release the Consumer Confidence Index for March.

NABE ECONOMIC FORECAST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new survey finds economists are expecting much stronger growth this year and next.

The National Association for Business Economics survey finds' a median forecast of 3.1 percent growth in real gross domestic product in 2015, compared a 2.4 percent gain in real GDP last year.

NABE President John Silvia, who's also the chief economist of Wells Fargo, says there's promising news for jobs too. The panelists' median forecast is for net job creation to average approximately 250,000 per month in 2015 and 216,000 per month next year. NABE says the unemployment rate is expected to continue its downward trend over the next several quarters, reaching 5 percent by the second half of 2016.

As for what the Federal Reserve will do, Silva says 88 percent of the panelists believe the Fed will start tightening monetary policy in the second or third quarter of 2015.

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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Elvis Presley had one. So did presidents from Kennedy to Reagan.

Now, the Lincoln Continental is back.

Ford Motor Co. is resurrecting the Continental with a concept car debuting at this week's New York Auto Show. The full-size sedan goes on sale next year.

The Continental dates to the late 1930s and was once the pinnacle of luxury. But Ford stopped producing it in 2002 when sales slowed.

Now, it's returning the Continental to the top of Lincoln's car lineup. The concept car has a new, smaller grille and a more elegant look. It also has new technology, including hidden door handles.

Ford hopes to take advantage of luxury sales growth in China, where customers appreciate Lincoln's history. It's opening more than 20 Lincoln dealerships in China this year.

AUSTRALIA-ASIAN BANK

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Australia has announced that it will join negotiations to establish a new a Chinese-led Asian regional bank.

The U.S. has expressed concern the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB, will allow looser lending standards for the environment, labor rights and financial transparency. The U.S. also worries the new bank will undercut the World Bank, where the U.S. has the most clout, and the Asian Development Bank, where it is the second-largest shareholder after Japan.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Joe Hockey said in a joint statement on Sunday that the government will sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow Australia to participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank.

DUKE ENERGY-CEO

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Duke Energy's CEO is paying a price for a massive spill of collected coal ash that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals.

An annual statement released ahead of the Charlotte-based company's May shareholder meeting says Chief Executive Officer Lynn Good's $8.3 million compensation in 2014 was cut by about $600,000. The top financial officer and three other executives saw similar 35 percent reductions in compensation tied to annual performance.

Directors of the country's largest electric company said in the company proxy statement released this week that the executives were docked because the spill will cost Duke Energy more than $190 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a pending criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations.

BRITAIN-MENINGITIS VACCINE

LONDON (AP) -- Britain says it will become the first country to offer all babies a vaccine for potentially fatal meningitis B after it reached a price deal with GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

Government health advisers recommended use of the Bexsero vaccine last year, and the government has spent months negotiating over the cost.

The drug was owned by Novartis, which recently sold most of its vaccines business to GlaxoSmithKline.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Sunday he was "very proud that we will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide Men B vaccination program."

Babies will receive the vaccine at two months, followed by two further doses.

Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord that most commonly affects children and teenagers.

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