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2015 Earth Day Week: Sierra Club Calls for Michigan Fracking Ban

A complete ban on high-volume, hydraulic fracturing in Michigan is needed to meet the challenge of climate change and avoid public health and environmental risks that led New York State to ban the risky practice, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter recently announced.

“Rather than allowing fracking to expand in our state, we should learn from states like Pennsylvania and Colorado where thousands of fracked wells endanger air, water, and public health,” said Nancy Shiffler, chair of Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign in Michigan. “Fracking operations have contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans and have devastated neighborhoods and landscapes while wasting water and threatening groundwater. The practice should end in the Great Lakes State.”

Sierra Club’s announcement of its endorsement of a ban on high volume fracking follows more than a year of study of the issue and the organization’s policies along with the release of the University of Michigan’s Graham Institute report on fracking in Michigan. The report points to uncertainties and potential risks involving fracking operations in Michigan. New York’s governor banned high-volume fracking in that state this past December following studies of health and environmental risks.

“Until we are able to loosen the grip the oil and gas industry and electric utilities have on state government in Michigan, achieving a fracking ban in the short term won’t happen in Lansing,” said Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Legislative Director. “But we will continue working to reduce the risks of fracking in Michigan while pursuing our goal to eventually eliminate the practice.”

Berkowitz said Michigan is falling behind as other states create new economic opportunities and well -paid jobs through energy efficiency efforts and by developing clean, low-carbon energy technologies. Michigan has chased solar and wind companies out of the state with short-sighted policy decisions while policymakers granted millions of dollars in tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. If Michigan increases its reliance on fossil fuels like fracked gas, clean energy job opportunities may be lost.

“Instead of promoting the use of fracked natural gas, Michigan needs to improve its energy efficiency and renewable energy policies,” said Berkowitz. “That will be a major focus of Sierra Club in 2015 and beyond.”

Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with 60,000 members and supporters in Michigan

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