Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Fracked Roads

Activists angered over flowback wastewater being sprayed on roads

Patrick Sullivan - October 1st, 2012  

Some environmentalists are alarmed after it was learned that thousands of gallons of flowback wastewater from two high-volume, deep-shale hydraulic fracking wells in Kalkaska County was sprayed on roads throughout the region to control dust.

The concern is that the fracking fluid could contaminate groundwater or harm wildlife.

DEQ officials said that this spring, 954 barrels, or just over 40,000 gallons, of flowback from two Kalkaska County hydrofracking wells was spread on roads by Team Services LLC Kalkaska, a private company working for Encana Corporation.

The spreading occurred between May 15 and June 13.

Jo Anne Beemon, an anti-fracking activist with Don’t Frack Michigan who discovered the use of the flowback through emails and telephone calls with DEQ officials, was outraged.

“What are the rules that regulate this new kind of frack fluid that’s coming back up?” Beemon said. “Why can they just put that on the roads?”


Areas where flowback fluid was used to treat roads were sampled and tested by state Department of Environmental Quality officials, who said they found no environmental or human health threat posed as a result of what was sprayed.

Rick Henderson, field operations supervisor in Traverse City for the DEQ’s Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals, said brine from the wells, informally called flowback, can be used as dust or ice control on roads with a permit, if the flowback meets certain standards.

But he said use of flowback from the two Excelsior wells was halted out of concern that other chemicals might be present in the fluid.

“Because there are some unknowns, I stopped it from being spread on roads until we could better characterize it,” Henderson said.

Bridget Ford, a spokeswoman for Encana, said the spraying occurred with a permit.

“We did, for a short period of time, utilize flowback for dust suppression,” Ford said in an email. “This was done by Team Services under our authorization and by permit through DEQ. DEQ later determined this was not a best practice and asked us to discontinue it, which we did. It’s important to note that no environmental impact resulted from this.”


Paul Brady, who lives in Bear Lake Township near the wells, said he would like to know how flowback from a deep-shale hyrdro-fracking well, operations which are shrouded in mystery over the chemical mixtures used, could be spread on Northern Michigan roads.

Brady noticed roads around the well sites were damp or wet almost every day in the late spring, and he started calling the DEQ and going door-to-door along the affected roads to alert neighbors.

At times, Brady said, the roads appeared to be soaked in the stuff.

He said the affected roads appeared to be in a route that passed both deep shale hydro-fracking wells in Excelsior and Oliver Townships. Sprayers appeared to travel in a loop from S. Sunset Trail to M-72, where Brady said muddy tracks from spray trucks appeared to stretch for miles, to Baker Road, to Grass Lake Road and past the north Excelsior well in Oliver Township.

“I think everyone is asking why and how did this happen,” Brady said. “They dumped brine that they shouldn’t have been dumping.”

Brady said he’s concerned about deepshale hydro-fracking and has been paying close attention to activity around the wells.

“When it hit Michigan, I got real interested, and when it was in my backyard, it got personal,” Brady said.


This sort of wastewater disposal demonstrates the weakness of Michigan law when it comes to fracking, opponents say.

While traditional fracking has been done in Northern Michigan for decades, highvolume deep-shale hydraulic fracturing, characterized by the use of enormous amounts of water to open up previously unreachable pockets of natural gas, is new to the region.

Among the characteristics of deep-shale fracking that concern environmentalists is the use of proprietary chemicals which are blasted into the earth in a slurry to break up rock formations. The oil and gas industry successfully lobbied to be able to keep the contents of their chemical mixtures secret.

The industry says that’s to maintain an advantage over competitors. Opponents believe the companies also want to keep secret the dangerous mix of chemicals they are pumping into the ground, some of which opponents believe are carcinogenic.

“We’ve got chemicals that are undisclosed, we have no idea what the makeup is,” said Joanne Cromley of Don’t Frack Michigan. “We’ve got brine going on our roads throughout the state and nobody knows what the chemical makeup is. That’s just negligence.”

She said Michigan needs to have tougher laws and closer regulation of the industry.

“It doesn’t look like there is any oversight at all,” Cromley said. “What they’ve been telling us all along is, ‘We’ve got the strongest regulations of any state on fracking,’ and that’s just not true.”


State officials, however, say they are doing what’s necessary to monitor the industry.

“We’re going to err on the side of protecting the public health and environment,” Henderson said. “We sampled the flowback fluid and we also sampled the soil where it was spread and we did not find anything over criteria, as set by the court.”

Henderson said a 1983 court order authorizes and sets the requirements for oil and gas companies to dispose of brine from wells by using it as a dust control agent.

Henderson said state officials know the classifications of the chemicals used by Encana and that means they have a good idea what contaminants to look for when they conduct tests.

He said they tested for over 80 chemicals. “We should capture everything,” he said. “Our goal was to get an idea of any chemicals that may have been introduced through the hydraulic fracturing process.”

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