A group looking to get a ban on hydraulic fracturing on the 2016 ballot has fallen well short in gathering the necessary signatures to put the issue before voters.
The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan announced Wednesday that they gathered 150,000 signatures in the last six months, but they needed 252,523 to qualify for the ballot.
“We had a really good volunteer base of 500 people, but we need more,” said LuAnne Kozma, the campaign’s director. “But if we can gather 150,000 signatures on a shoe string, it won’t be long before we’re over the top.”
The group has tried to get a fracking ban on the ballot in the last two election cycles in 2012 and 2014, but hasn’t gotten enough signatures, Kozma said, adding the group doubled the number of signatures they got this year over their 2014 totals.
The group is still studying their options — — whether to wait until 2018 or continue with the effort in 2016 by using a portion of the signatures they have already gathered and trying to get the rest of the signatures during a different six-month time frame. Under election laws, the signatures have to be gathered during a 180-day period.
“We’re excited that we got this far. There were a lot of heroic efforts by a lot of people,” she said. “But it’s really a difficult bar in Michigan.”
Erin McDonough, President and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, said the failure to gather enough signatures is proof that Michigan citizens understand the benefits of hydraulic fracturing, a process of extracting oil and natural gas by drilling a hole and injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to extract the oil and natural gas.
“We are pleased that efforts to engage the public around the benefits of hydraulic fracturing have been successful in turning voters away again from signing petitions that would put a hydraulic fracturing ban on the ballot,” McDonough said in a statement. “The public has a growing awareness of the facts: clean hydraulic fracturing can and is being done in our state with real results that the public understands.”
In Michigan, more than 12,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured since 1952, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
This article was written by Kathleen Gray from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.