New Bill Would Allow Municipalities to Ban Fracking

July 7, 2014

New Bill Would Allow Municipalities to Ban Fracking

7/7/14 - A local legislator is working to help eliminate language from an amendment passed in 2011 limiting local government control over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an amendment he had voted to approve at the time. Currently, local governments are very limited in what kinds of limitations they can place on operations that harvest mineral resources, including fracking. This was established by a Michigan Supreme Court case in 1982, but briefly overturned by the Supreme Court in 2010 on the basis that the judiciary did not have the jurisdiction to impose the kind of language used. In response, the legislature passed House Bill 4746 the following year, exempting mining and drilling operations from local zoning ordinances unless “very serious consequences” would result. In both houses the bill got bipartisan support and passed by at least a 2-to-1 margin, with local legislators Joe Hune, Cindy Denby, and Bill Rogers all voting in favor. Hune says the Supreme Court decision called for the legislature to take action on the issue. He points out that the bill did preserve some local control over hours of operation and transportation issues, and that municipalities like Ishpeming have successfully blocked fracking operations with the “very serious consequences” defense. Regardless, he is now working with Democratic Senator Rebekah Warrn from Ann Arbor on new legislation entitled Senate Bill 930 that would remove several paragraphs introduced by the 2011 bill. Hune tells WHMI while this will not give local governments a say in how these operations do business, it will help them keep such operations out of their municipalities entirely. Warren introduced the bill on May 7th, and it has been sent to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, and Great Lakes. When contacted, representatives Denby and Rogers were not completely familiar with the new bill since it has not yet reached the state house. However, Denby says more local involvement in this industry is needed. Rogers says additional oversight would be a plus, but also that local officials may not have the experience of higher-level authorities. (TD)

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