Source: Sherman Publications

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Township to look at drilling in park

by Mary Keck

July 25, 2012

The township stands to gain about $5,000 per month or more if Jordan Development finds oil or gas beneath Bay Court Park. On July 17, the board asked Superintendent Bart Clark to continue investigating the lease of minerals in Bay Court.

Chris Bickley, Land Manager for Jordan Development, said there was a 50/50 chance of finding oil or gas in the ground under the park; however, without drilling, there is no way to know for certain what minerals are beneath the surface.

The process of searching "takes about a month to put a well in place, during that operation you'll have trucks, you'll have noise, you'll have construction, possibly odors," said Clark.

According to Bickley, the drilling site would be "restored as much as possible" after investigating for oil or gas.

While Jordan Development's lease lasts only five years, if a well produces minerals, extraction could last from 15-20 years, Bickley stated.

Because the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) won't allow drilling within the park, the company could drill up to two miles from Baycourt and laterally withdraw oil or gas from pools 2,000 to 3,000 feet below the earth. During an auction in Lansing, Jordan Development acquired leases for 98 acres of Township land.

During the meeting, the board insisted the agreement with Jordan Development would not allow horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a controversial technique of extracting natural gas Jordan Development has used in Northern Michigan. Local anti-fracking activists have recently held events to gather signatures on a petition that would amend the Michigan Constitution to ban fracking.

Some attending the meeting had recommendations for the board as they continue to investigate. Nanci Anderson-Bereznicki, candidate for treasurer, suggested the board include "a penalty if we found out" fracking was done.

Trustee candidate Joette Kunse wanted the board to find out "how much water is going to be used and what chemicals are going to be used in the drilling."

Trustee Larry Rosso was the only member of the board who voted against looking into oil and gas drilling further.

He said, "I don't think it's worth our time. There's too many inherent risks with the environment, and it will just stimulate more controversy, and we don't need more controversy." While the board is not obligated to sign the lease, Jordan Development may drill for oil and gas anyway through permission from a private landowner.