Fracking is already happening elsewhere in Michigan--the state auctioned rights to a quarter-million acres of land for that purpose last year--and Ann Arbor state representative (and former Washtenaw County commissioner) Jeff Irwin wants to insure it's adequately regulated. "We have the most to lose in Michigan because we've got so much fresh water to contaminate," Irwin says.
He and other Democrats introduced four bills last November that would police future fracking. "One is a short-term, one-year moratorium on fracking, and with that is another bill for a comprehensive study of the public health, environmental, and natural resource impact of fracking," Irwin says. "The most important bill makes for full disclosure of whatever chemicals are used in the fracking. And my bill requires frackers to be held accountable for how much water they're using. Fracking uses a tremendous amount of water, and the local effects can be really deleterious on streams and rivers."
The bills will likely face an uphill fight in the Republican-controlled legislature--but since no one's fracking here anyway, Ron Mann isn't overly concerned. For the current oil wells, he says, "I'm reasonably satisfied that we have the controls necessary, and I don't see pollution as a problem. I'm more concerned with the materials going up and down our highways in tanker trucks and we don't even know what's going on in there!"