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Anti-fracking groups to appeal challenge to Michigan petition law to Supreme Court

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court is likely to be the last stop for a group that's trying to put a fracking ban on the ballot.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a controversial process involving pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into deep into the ground to break up shale deposits releasing oil or natural gas.   

Fracking has boosted oil and natural gas production. But critics say it damages the environment.

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan collected more than 270,000 signatures to put a ban on the ballot. But the signatures were not collected within the 180 day window required by law. The group has been fighting the limit in court for years.

Last week, the Court of Appeals rejected the group’s request to strike down the statute.

Attorney Matthew Erard represents the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan.

He says meeting the 180-day limit is easier for well-funded campaigns with paid circulators. But Erard says for grassroots groups pursuing a petition drive entirely on the basis of volunteer effort it’s extremely daunting, if not impossible.

“There is no purpose for this statute,” says Erard. “Other than to frustrate the citizens’ initiative process.”

Erard says if appealing to the Supreme Court fails, the anti-fracking group will have to consider starting their petition drive over.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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