Michigan DEQ Takes Positive Initial Steps toward Fracking Transparency

DEQ Michigan LCV fracking transparency

The Michigan DEQ is putting in place some new common sense transparency measures to improve protections for Michiganders' water in regard to the potentially dangerous process of fracking.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is taking early voluntary steps to improve the disclsoure of information of the deep-drilling process known as fracking. They will now post online all of the hazardous substances found in reportable quantities on the site, as well as posting the internal processes used to evaluate water withdrawals. In doing so, the DEQ is demonstrating both the ability and opportunity to quickly improve this potentially hazardous practice through greater transparency.

You can check out the full press release issued by Michigan LCV, Michigan Environmental Council, and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council here: Full press release.

From our perspective, though, this is progress. Although we certainly still aren’t where we need to be (we’ll likely need legislation for that), these new steps made by the DEQ demonstrate the fact that it is in everyone’s best interest --- industry, families, Democrats, and Republicans --- for Michiganders’ to feel safe turning on their tap or enjoying a day on the river.

Here are the details:

  • This new commitment from the Michigan DEQ will result in the posting of material safety data sheets (MSDS) online as soon as possible. Previously, they were only available to Local Emergency Planning Committees, on the drilling site itself, or in the event of an emergency.

  • Beginning in late October, the sheets that disclose all chemicals on site that are considered hazardous and at a certain quantity (typically 10,000 pounds) will be available online at the DEQ’s Office of Geological Survey page as well as the Oil and Gas page.
  • Until this point, citizens near fracking sites were unable to conduct baseline testing of their own wells or nearby surface waters to determine if chemicals from a fracking site are seeping into their drinking water or contaminating local rivers and streams.

  • Similarly, until now, the process by which the DEQ evaluates water withdrawal requests was also not publicly available. That, too, will shortly be available to interested citizens online.

Of course, these initial changes alone are not enough to protect the greatest Michigan treasure: our water. Here is a link to the full list of improvements we feel are necessary to bring our state to a point where fracking is regulated appropriately.

Every bit of progress counts and these are good first steps. If you'd like to be more involved in advocating for strong protections for Michigan's water around the issue of fracking, please click here to email Erica Bloom, our Programs Manager.