Ann Arbor, MI - Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center’s “Drilling Our Conservation Heritage” Report, released today, highlights the oil and gas drilling industry as Michigan’s most prominent growing threat to our pristine and treasured state lands. Little action is being taken to protect our most critical natural areas. Instead, state legislators are contemplating the expansion of oil and gas wells for extraction and CO2 storage. The Department of Natural Resources must take action now to ensure our conservation heritage is not threatened.
Right now, approximately 870,000 acres of state lands are leased for oil and gas development. An additional 100,000 acres are under consideration for development. Therefore, the time is now for our environmental agencies to identify and protect our most ecologically sensitive areas, which face imminent threats from pollution and soil contamination.
“Our elected officials must take proactive measures before a rush to drill removes the window of opportunity for protecting our conservation heritage. With oil and gas prices reaching new heights, industry lobbyists are pressing Lansing decision-makers to open tens of thousands of new acres to exploration and production every year,” said Danielle Korpalski, Environmental Associate for Environment Michigan.
Furthermore, the report reveals the pitfalls of our state agencies in providing oversight and cleanup of the already existing 18,000 oil and gas wells. And while the oil and gas companies continue to pursue drilling projects in and around some of the most critical habitat and wildlife areas in Michigan, our elected officials continue to allow expansion.
“Michigan must use the 1972 Wilderness and Natural Areas Act to ensure that Tahquamenon Falls, The West Michigan Dunes, as well as the other 450,000 acres are identified and made off-limits to destructive drilling,” Korpalski concluded.