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Demands for more local control over oil drilling reach the state capitol

Sep 9, 2014

This story was updated at 6:27 am on 9-10-14

State lawmakers got an earful today from people who want townships to have the ability to say no to oil and gas companies.

Dozens of people who want local townships to be able to say 'no' to oil and natural gas drilling lobbied state lawmakers in Lansing
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A 2011 amendment to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act specifically bars townships from preventing conventional drilling. 

Michele Economou-Ureste is the West Bloomfield Township supervisor.

She says oil drilling is hurting property values in towns across Michigan.

“It’s a bipartisan issue. It’s an economic development issue,” says Economou-Ureste, “ (It’s) an issue that affects every homeowner.”

Oil and natural drilling is managed by state regulators.

Adam Wygant is with the state Department of Environmental Quality. When asked by Michigan Radio earlier this summer, he said says oil wells tend to be less disruptive than people fear, and often, they get used to them.

Laura Robinson, president of Citizens for Oil Free Backyards, says the Department of Environmental Quality is mainly interested in helping the oil industry.

“The DEQ, is certainly in our opinion, not looking out for the best interests and health, safety and welfare of residents of Michigan,” says Robinson.

There are several bills in the legislature to give local governments more control over oil and gas drilling. But it's unclear if any will pass during the current legislative session.  

CORRECTION: The word "not" was missing from Laura Robinson's quote in an earlier version of this story. We apologize for the transcription error.