ALPENA -The use of fracking to extract material from below ground in Michigan is a hot button topic. Those for the use of the procedure say it will add another tool to help bolster the state's economy and help move the country to energy independence, while opponents say the method could put Michigan's environment at stake.
On Nov. 1, 106th District Rep. Peter Pettalia is hosting three town hall meetings to inform the public about the fracking process, as well as the potential impacts and fallout that may follow its use in Michigan. Pettalia said he will be joined by leaders of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources, as well as private fracking companies and environmental groups who are against the technique.
Fracking is a method used to break free mineral or gases deep underground using an injection of water, mixed with a chemical. Another form of fracking is to use a vibration to jar the desired product loose from the earth for extraction. Pettalia said he is still in the process of learning more about the practice and has not determined if he is for or against it. He said he decided to host the meetings to help educate the public and to let it get the facts from all of the players involved.
"As I have been traveling around the district I have been talking to other government officials and they have been telling me they have been getting a lot of questions about fracking," Pettalia said. "I want these meetings to be informational, not confrontational, and to bring out proper information because, believe me, the environmental groups have put out false information as have the companies."
Michigan is known for having one of the world's largest natural gas reserves and fracking would be an effective method to remove it from deep beneath the water table and make it available for market as the demand for the fuel increases. Pettalia said government has a responsibility to look at both sides of the issues and see if it is suitable to do. He said if he determines it is not, then he will not support it.
"If we can do it here, then it is our responsibilities as government officials to see if we can do it safely. Right now I don't know if I'm for or against it. My jury is still out. I live on the shore of Lake Huron and I treasure where I live and treasure the clean waters we have," Pettalia said. "I think people know me well enough to know I would never support anything that would ultimately end up hurting that. Like others I'm concerned and I want to hear them tell me that what they would be doing is not going to affect ground water. Our groundwater is Lake Huron, Hubbard Lake and all the other bodies of water in Northeast Michigan.'
Rep. Peter Pettalia town hall fracking meetings
* Oscoda at the Shoreline Players Theater. 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
* Harrisville Township Hall, 2-4 p.m.
* Alpena Community College, 6-8p.m.
Pettalia said both the DNR and the DEQ, as well as the EPA, have done their homework and all agree the fracking practice is safe. He said Michigan has reached out to other states that have fracking companies operating in them and learned there hasn't been any great issues.
The first meeting is in Oscoda from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Shoreline Players Theater and the second is in Harrisville township Hall in Alcona County from 2-4 p.m. The final meeting is in Alpena at Alpena Community College from 6-8 p.m. Pettalia said he encourages anyone who has questions about fracking to attend. There is no cost to attend.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.