Project gets hydraulic fracturing permit in Mich.

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Associated Press

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 10:02 AM

CONWAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Texas-based business has been granted a high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit to extract natural gas, crude oil or both in a Michigan community.

GeoSouthern Energy got the OK from Michigan earlier this month. The project is planned for Livingston County's Conway Township, located about 55 miles northwest of Detroit, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell reported (http://bit.ly/19GV4ng ).

GeoSouthern's Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit allows the company to drill about 4,400 feet into the ground and 5,000 horizontally. The permit allows injection of 3 million gallons of water, as well as sand and a mixture of as many as 30 chemicals.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process in which water, chemicals and sand are injected deep underground to break apart rock and free trapped gases. Proponents say it's been done safely in Michigan for decades, but opponents argue that it's dangerous to humans and the environment.

Michigan has been on the fringes of a debate on the merits of fracking, and 19 high-volume wells, which require more than 100,000 gallons of water and chemicals, have been completed statewide.

"While the magnitude of these projects are larger, the same basic process applies and we've seen that it has a good safety record," said Adam Wygant, section chief with the DEQ's Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals.

Democrats in the state House have introduced bills to strengthen fracking regulation, and some environmentalists are collecting petition signatures for a ballot initiative to ban it.

The industry and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees oil and gas production, say the state already has tough rules and fracking can be done safely, even at great depths.

The drilling in Conway Township is to be done from resident Jack Sherwood's Maple Grove Farm property, and GeoSouthern will pay him to use his property, and GeoSouthern has sent lease proposals out to most of the township's homes in the community of roughly 3,000 residents.

Sherwood said he doesn't expect the process to yield much, since his property has been the site of drilling three times over the past 30 years without success.

"I don't give this one much of a chance, but you never know," he said.

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Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com

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