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 September 01, 2015 17:13 GMT

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. construction spending in July climbed to its highest level in more than seven years, boosted by an increase in the building of houses, factories and power plants.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.08 trillion, the highest level since May 2008. The report also revised up the June increase in construction spending to 0.7 percent from 0.1 percent previously.

Ground breakings for houses, apartment complexes and commercial centers have helped to improve overall economic growth. The government said last week that the U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the April-June quarter, after having edged up just 0.6 percent in the first quarter.

Total construction spending has risen 13.7 percent over the past 12 months.

ECONOMY-MANUFACTURING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A private survey finds that growth in US manufacturing slowed last month to the lowest pace in more than two years.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group for purchasing managers, reports that its manufacturing index slid to 51.1 last month from 52.7 in July. It was the second straight drop, and marked the weakest reading since May 2013. Anything above 50 signals growth. Economists had expected the index to rise last month.

Raw materials prices fell for the 10th straight month. Growth fell in production, employment and exports.

The strong dollar has made U.S. goods more expensive in foreign markets. China's economic slowdown has also pinched manufacturers and pushed commodities prices lower.

AUTO SALES

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler's U.S. sales rose 2 percent in August thanks to strong demand for Jeep SUVs.

Jeep brand sales were up 18 percent, making up for double-digit declines for the Chrysler and Dodge brands. Fiat Chrysler sold 201,672 vehicles overall.

Industry sales were expected to drop 3 percent from last August, according to car buying site TrueCar.com. It was the first year-over-year monthly sales decline since January 2014. But industry analysts say a quirk in the calendar -- not a lack of demand -- was to blame.

Labor Day is typically one of the biggest sales weekends of the year as dealers hold model year-end clearance sales. Last year, Labor Day weekend was counted as part of August sales. This year it's in September.

AIRLINES-CONSUMER PROTECTIONS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal panel says airlines should clearly disclose the cost of change and cancellation fees, as well as the size of the plane's seats, before a passenger buys a ticket.

The Advisory Committee For Aviation Consumer Protections also is recommending that hotels be required to include any mandatory resort or other fees in their room rates.

Some hotels have begun adding mandatory fees to bills even though customers say they weren't informed of them when they booked their rooms.

Likewise, the panel heard testimony that passengers must search to find the cost of change or cancellation fees that airlines hide in a ticket's fine print. The fees can run hundreds of dollars.

Airlines have also shrunk the distance between seats as much as six inches in recent years.

INDONESIA-IMF

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- The head of the International Monetary Fund says global economic growth is likely to be weaker than earlier expected and will remain at moderate levels.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Asia is still expected to lead global growth, but the pace is slowing with a risk of possibly sagging further because of recent financial market volatility.

Speaking today in a lecture at the University of Indonesia, Lagarde said the global economic situation will have a significant impact on developing countries, including Indonesia.

Lagarde, who is on a two-day visit to Indonesia, met today with Indonesia's president and discussed the global economic situation.

Indonesian officials and the IMF's senior resident representative are denying speculation that Indonesia is seeking loans from the IMF.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's labor minister says the country's economy has room to accommodate refugees, but the government will need to spend billions of extra euros (dollars) to cover language courses, benefits and their integration into the labor market.

Labor Minister Andrea Nahles' comments come after official data underlined the strength of Europe's biggest economy, showing the national unemployment rate at 6.4 percent in August. That compares with higher jobless rates in many other European countries, topping 20 percent in Greece and Spain.

Nahles says, "Additional workers are needed in many areas of the German economy." She says, "We want to use this situation to open up the opportunity for the refugees who have come to us legitimately of a new and better life in Germany."

PORTUGAL-BANK SALE

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Portugal is having trouble selling Novo Banco, the so-called good bank salvaged from last year's collapse of major lender Banco Espirito Santo.

The Bank of Portugal said Tuesday it had missed its own Aug. 31 deadline for the sale after failing to reach agreement with a potential buyer, which it didn't identify.

The central bank said in a statement it was starting talks with another bidder, also unnamed. It said a third bid remains on the table.

Novo Banco received 4.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion) from a so-called bank resolution fund, a mechanism adopted during the eurozone debt crisis to support the financial sector.

The Portuguese Treasury provided 3.9 billion euros of that, with other Portuguese banks providing the rest, and those lenders want to recoup their money.

EARNS-DOLLAR TREE

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) -- Dollar Tree Inc. (DLTR) is reporting a fiscal second-quarter loss of $98 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company says it loss of 46 cents. Earnings, adjusted for costs related to mergers and acquisitions, were 25 cents per share.

SUBWAY SPOKESMAN-FOUNDATION CHIEF

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- An attorney says the former director of a foundation created by ex-Subway spokesman Jared Fogle will plead guilty to child pornography charges.

Russell Taylor was charged in May with seven counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

His attorney, Brad Banks, tells Fox59 in Indianapolis that they "anticipate the filing of a guilty plea in the near future."

Taylor led the Jared Foundation, which raises awareness and money to fight childhood obesity. Taylor is in federal custody.

Fogle is also expected to plead guilty at a hearing in November. He faces federal charges of distribution and receipt of child pornography and traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. He's has been released on home detention.

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