“Everybody’s jumping for joy,” says Scio Township supervisor Spaulding Clark. He’s referring to the departure of a Traverse City-based oil exploration company which had drilled an exploratory oil well near the corner of Miller and West Delhi. Alarmed residents demanded the township do something to stop an action many considered aesthetically disastrous and environmentally dubious, but Clark learned quickly that under state law, local governments can’t block mineral extraction. In desperation, the board nonetheless passed a moratorium that Clark sums up as “saying ‘We want you to stop until we can analyze the law.'”

Turns out they didn’t need that legally uncertain measure. “There wasn’t any effect from the moratorium,” says Pat Gibson, VP of West Bay Exploration, “and because we found no hydrocarbons in the well, we’re done with Scio. It’s highly unlikely there would be oil there. This isn’t an uncommon outcome. With onshore wildcat wells there’s roughly a 20 to 25 percent success rate.” Gibson did note that Scio’s outraged reaction was “stronger than we usually get.”