The efforts of our Township Board to control the location of oil and gas drilling operations in Oakland Township may be impacted by a memo from the Michigan DEQ. The DEQ’s position is in response to a request from Supervisor Gonser. As you may recall, Supervisor Gonser was opposed to moving forward with the Ordinance at the January BOT meeting. The outcome of Oakland Township’s proposed Ordinance may be in jeopardy.
As previously reported on this website, the Oakland Township Board is considering an Ordinance to control the location of Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township. A second reading of that Ordinance is schedule for the February 9, 2016 Board meeting. Supervisor Gonser had previously expressed concerns over the Township’s authority to control oil and gas drilling. He voted against moving forward with the draft ordinance. He contacted the DEQ and asked for their input. Mr. Harold Fitch, the Assistant Supervisor of wells and Chief office of Oil and Gas & Minerals responded by saying:
“As demonstrated by the definitions (in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act), the DEQ considers a broad range of operations as subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supervisor of wells and not subject to regulations by Township’s or Counties.”
He basically is saying we, as a Township, do not have any control over the location or operation of oil and gas drilling in our Township.
Here is a copy of his entire response to Supervisor Gonser’s request:
Other communities have been struggling with this issue. Townships have less control over oil and gas drilling operations than cities. However, Rochester Hills has been involved in recent disputes over their authority to control drilling in their city. More recently, Southfield has been dealing with this issue. Here are two current links to the Southfield issue:
Southfield Public meeting on Oil and Gas Drilling in their community
Rep. Jeremy Moss (Southfield) bill to control Oil and Gas Drilling locations
Here is a copy of our draft ordinance:
Janaury 12, BOT meeting agenda and Oil:Gas draft ordinance
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Oakland Township may not have much control over oil and gas drilling in our community. However, we should pursue as much control as possible within the constraints of the law. At the January BOT meeting, our Township attorney and planning consultants both agreed with what is being proposed in the draft ordinance. I trust that Supervisor Gonser’s requested input from the DEQ does not change their position on the proposed ordinance.
So what can we do:
- Attend the February 9, 2016 Board meeting to express your opinion after listening to the discussion by our Township Attorney, Planning Consultant and Board members.
- If not able to attend the February 9th meeting, watch the proceedings on the Township website, or Comcast cable channel, to learn more about this issue.
- Contact your State representatives (Michael Webber <email@example.com> or Brad Jacobsen <firstname.lastname@example.org>) asking them to support Representative Moss’ bill allowing more local control over oil and gas drilling locations.
I would just like to say that the MDEQ has a lot of nerve weighting in on this issue. Their total lack of credibility on anything having to do with risk to water quality and the welfare of Michigan’s residents including children is so obvious, I am shocked that they had the gall to say anything on this matter. I will try my best to be there. But I will also be sending emails to the board.
Thanks for explaining this issue and your concerns, which I share.
This is one more factor to consider when we compare the pluses and minuses of township versus city status for our municipality, as I hope the Board will lead us through this year.
Bob, Is a change in status being discussed? What is the likelihood of this happening?