Judge dismisses lawsuit aimed at stopping 'fracking' in West Michigan
A judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to stop any oil and gas drilling on state land in western Michigan.
The area in question is Allegan State Game Area, the Barry State Game Reserve and Yankee Springs Parks and Recreation Area.
Yvonne Zip reports for MLive that a group called "Michigan Air Land Water Defense" filed the lawsuit last October. The group said the state should first assess the environmental impacts of horizontal hydraulic fracturing on public land.
Zip reports that Barry County Judge Amy McDowell said the lawsuit is jumping the gun:
In her opinion, McDowell called the plaintiffs' claims premature, since the leases auctioned were classified as non-developmental, which means that no surface drilling can occur without an application to the state for a change of status. "As asserted by Defendants, the mere act of leasing oil and gas rights, in and of itself, does not constitute actual or imminent injury," wrote McDowell. "If the DNR initially classified that lease as 'developmental' or 'developmental with restrictions' prior to a review of the impact on protected areas, then this Court may have reached a different conclusion." So far, no reclassification permit has been sought by a lessee, so the plaintiffs failed to establish "actual or imminent injury," the judge wrote.