Effort to ban residential area drilling in Michigan after Southfield controversy

 

A debate that started in Southfield after an oil company sought permission to drill the grounds on a church property has led one lawmaker to propose legislation seeking to ban oil and gas drilling in all residential areas in the state.

State House Representative from the 35th District Jeremy Moss said on Wednesday that he is soon going to introduce legislation that will deny drilling in any residential area of the state.

His latest effort comes after Jordan Development of Traverse City applied for a permit with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to dig an oil well at the Word of Faith International Christian Center on Evergreen Road and Nine Mile.

Southfield currently has a moratorium on oil and gas extractions in the city due to environmental concerns.

“If they aren’t going to hear our objections; if they aren’t going to abide by a lawful city moratorium on oil drilling, then we are just going to try and cut them off at the state level and ban this practice in any residential area,” said Moss, who also served on the Southfield City Council before being elected as a state representative.

Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver said there have been growing concerns in his community about the oil and gas exploration efforts due to environmental concerns.

“We do not want the environmental hazards, loss of trees, heavy equipment, truck traffic and all that goes with such operations in our neighborhoods,” said Siver. “Drilling for oil and gas in a fully developed community such as ours is totally inappropriate.”

The city officials have been discussing the issue for the past several months in hopes to come up with an ordinance to regulate the exploration practices.

There has been debate, however, on the legal authority of the local ordinance if the state authorizes drilling in a community.

An earlier statement by Jordan Development said the oil well at the church will be located in dense woods, “at a significant distance from any residents or property owners.”

“Protecting drinking water and groundwater is also of paramount importance to Jordan Development,” the statement said.

On Jan. 27, Moss will host an event with Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash to provide residents information on oil and gas exploration and drilling, including fracking.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Southfield Public Library located at 26300 Evergreen Road in Southfield.Courser-Gamrat story has generated more interest in expanding the state’s Freedom of Information law to include the Michigan legislature.

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