Michigan Land Use Institute

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Dangerous Playground

June 1, 1997 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Editor's note: When a gas well is drilled into the Antrim Shale formation, the rock cuttings and drilling fluids are channeled into a plastic-lined pit. State regulations require that the wastes are buried at the site within six months of well completion.

Homeowners have become increasingly concerned about whether these waste pits pose a risk to groundwater.In addition, as the following letter from an Institute member points out, the exposed pits are a dangerous attraction to children.

To find out more about this and other deficiencies in Michigan's oversight of oil and gas drilling, call the Institute at 231-882-4723.

This Antrim gas well site was unattended for several weeks as you see it. It is in an area zoned R1 (Residential, single family), 800 feet from our home. The boy's name is Trevor and he was visiting us and went out to play. He was very attracted by the bulldozer, and then tempted to throw pebbles into the cuttings pond.

It seems the drillers could do something to protect themselves from liability by:

1. Not drilling in residential areas.

2. Not having "mud pits," or at least guarding them with guards or fencing.

3. Removing heavy equipment and isolating other dangers such as tanks, open pipes, and pumps with exposed turning shafts.

I think this is an important safety issue as the gas field expands closer to populated areas.

Thomas E. Williams

Atlanta, MI

Before You Sign an Oil & Gas Lease,
Check Out This Loophole

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that Terra Energy acted legally in deducting most processing and transportation expenses, known as "post production costs" before paying royalties to private leaseholders.

The court decision was a setback for thousands of mineral owners across the region, who have seen their royalty checks plummet even though their leases do not specifically allow such deductions.

The lawsuit, between three private mineral owners and one of the state's largest gas producers, was filed after the Department of Natural Resources cut post production cost deductions for oil and gas leases on public lands by two-thirds. The DNR's action came at the urging of the State's Attorney General.

The attorney representing the mineral owners, H. Keith DuBois, said the court ruling was affected by a number of significant errors. Mr. DuBois has filed a formal Motion for Reconsideration with the court. If the motion to have the case reheard is unsuccessful, Mr. DuBois said his clients plan to appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.G

For more information, contact: Hans Voss at the Institute, 231-882-4723.

Michigan Land Use Institute

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Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
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