New fracking site raises questions in Ottawa Co.

7:48 PM, Jul 17, 2013   |    comments
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In fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, high-pressure water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground to break up, or fracture, the rock, releasing the oil or gas.

POLKTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Ottawa County leaders and residents are getting a crash course on the controversial process called fracking, as it now is moving closer to home. 

Wednesday night, county leaders are holding a public forum to address questions and concerns, after a permit was approved to allow the process of natural gas drilling in Ravenna, right next to the Ottawa County line.

It used to be about a two hour drive from Polkton Township to the nearest fracking site.

"The closer it gets to your own your own home, your property, and your own water supply, then you start to care, and it is here," says Shirley Draft, a Polkton Township resident.

A permit, approved by the Department of Environmental Quality is now allowing a Texas company to drill on land in Ravenna, less than ten miles away from Polkton Township.

"We went from, yeah it's far away and that's kind of nice, to  that's at our back door, how does that effect us?," says Bill Sahlberg, Polkton Township Supervisor.

Wednesday night, Ottawa County leaders will try to answer questions about what fracking means.

"They are concerned mostly about the environmental aspects
and the uncertainty," says Mark Knudsen, director of the Ottawa County Planning Department

Fracking may already be closer to Ottawa County than many people know.  In fact, there are currently 41,000 acres of land  leased to oil and gas companies in the county.

"Most of Ottawa county is covered with oil and gas leases that property owners have signed," says Knudsen.

Local governments have little to no say over the regulations, when it comes to fracking. 

"We're very much at the mercy of the state of Michigan, the DEQ," says Sahlberg.

At the site in Ravenna, county leaders say testing has already begun, and depending on the results, further could soon be on the way.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, at the Fillmore Street Complex in West Olive. County leaders say more than 100 people have already signed up early.

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