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Letters 05-06-2013

- May 6th, 2013  

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Seniors & taxes

Regarding the 4/29 letter “Runaway Train.” What an entitlement attitude regarding senior taxes. I’d like to ask the question: When did the citizens of Michigan decide that the working folks could and would support retired individuals?

I mean let’s get real here, seniors don’t have to pay any taxes on their Social Security Income and by the time you throw exemptions in, you don’t pay any income taxes on the first $40,000 of income.

Compare that to a working couple who are trying to make ends meet. Their first $40,000 in income will cost them at least $1,300 in State income taxes. So in reality, when you compare a retired couple with a $60K income against a working couple with a $60K income, the retired folks will pay around $860 in income taxes and the working couple over $2,100 in income taxes.

Seniors need to quit their whining and pay a share, even if it’s not a fair share as demonstrated with the above figures. Yeah, I know you worked hard your whole life and feel you deserve a break, and you probably do, but not on the backs of the rest of the people of the state.

As far as jobs go, in August of 2009 Michigan’s unemployment rate stood at 14.2% whereas in March of 2013 it stood at 8.5%, these number speak for themselves.

Pete VanBerlo • Williamsburg

Disaster in Kalkaska

Recently, the Canadian-based Encana corporation filed applications to drill 13 more gas/oil wells in Kalkaska County.

The combined cumulative water estimated to hydraulically fracture these wells is in excess of 327,000,000 gallons. This water would be removed from the Manistee Watershed permanently, because the chemicals added to the water render it too toxic for any future use -- even for more hydraulic fracturing.

Some of this frack fluid will remain underground in the target formation, but between 30 and 70% of it will return to the surface with the hydrocarbons, and will be re-injected into injection disposal wells. That’s over 327 million gallons of water gone from the watershed, and between 98.2 and 22.9 million gallons of toxic waste to deal with.

On average, Encana estimates more than 25 million gallons of water needed per well -- this is more than has been used in any other hydraulically fractured gas/oil well in the entire United States.

To put this in perspective, the Village of Kalkaska processes an average of 119,355,000 gallons of water per year, but it doesn’t remove that water permanently. Much of it is processed and returned to the water cycle.

One Encana well pad proposes to remove over 132,000,000 gallons -- more than Kalkaska pumps in an entire year -- but it would be taken over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, and then it’s gone for good.

Encana proposes to remove most of the water for the new wells within a four-square mile area in Oliver and Excelsior townships from water wells located less than half a mile from the North Branch and/or the main branch of the Manistee River. These water wells interrupt the flow of groundwater to the rivers, and effectively prevent water from reaching them. If enough water fails to reach the rivers, the flow rate and the temperature of the rivers can be affected. If the flow rate lessens and the temperature rises sufficiently, the trout and other cold water fish in the rivers will fail to thrive.

What would Kalkaska be without trout?

If these record-breaking water withdrawals are permitted to occur, the Kalkaska area fishing community, and the businesses that serve that community, may well be finding out in the near future.

Paul Brady • Manistee Watershed Preservation Coalition

Solar & wind benefits

People talk often about what wind turbines and solar panels are about. This is what they are not about -- gas explosions, oil spills, coal mining accidents, using millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic.

Solar and wind do not contaminate food or soil. They do not contaminate the air. They are not about huge subsidies to the fossil fuel industries or politicians taking money from the fossil fuel industries.

They are not about injection wells, flowback, compressor stations, well pads, pipelines, earthquakes or long-term damage to the environment.

Michigan needs to be setting up infrastructure for alternative energy -- not hydraulic fracturing. The wind blows, the sun shines. We owe it to future generation to promote clean energy.

Susan L. Wheadon • via email

Fracking giveaway

There is a fracking gas/oil rush in Michigan because the state's DEQ and Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals give multinational energy corporations our fresh water for FREE and our state lands for pennies.

With free water, $18 an acre land leases, and state and federal exemptions to environmental and public safety law, Encana can whistle it’s way to the bank with little overhead or accountability. Our Michigan State Forests belong to all the people. They are the public trust and must be protected today and for future generations, not given away for private profit.

Every time a well is fracked, some 20,000,000 gallons of clean, fresh, groundwater is taken from the Earth, poisoned with toxic chemicals, and removed forever from the hydrologic cycle of the Great Lakes. Mushrooms, skinks, brook trout, Kirtland warblers, fox, songbirds and the biodiversity of the forests are impacted and harmed. Our headwater streams, wetlands, ponds, rivers and lakes, and finally the Great Lakes themselves are diminished by this enormous water diversion in the heart of our state.

Thousands of unconventional highvolume slickwater wells are planned for fracking the deep, dense Collinwood/Utica shales. And the drilling, venting, flaring, piping, refining and off-gassing of the gas industry load the atmosphere with CO2, causing more extreme climate change, Great Lakes warming, more evaporation of surface water and diminishing of our clean, wondrous fresh water seas, our Great Lakes.

Some 95% of the freshwater of the U.S. lies in the Great Lakes Basin. We must fight to prevent the diversion, contamination, waste and squandering of our precious water resources for quick profits for oil and gas corporations and revenue for the DEQ Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals.

JoAnne Beemon • Charlevoix

Need fracking moratorium

Michigan citizens have recently been told that we possess a wealth of natural gas, and that the oil and gas industry will respect our environment in it’s production.

The advertising campaign promoting “clean” natural gas in Michigan began appearing the same time residents of other states were reporting environmental problems with horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. “fracking.”

I didn’t know much about fracking, but I’ve seen Michigan wells producing natural gas for decades. Using the internet, I discovered articles, studies, and conversations about fracking, most of which conflict with one another. I attended numerous local conferences and meetings to get answers.

While natural gas burns more cleanly than many hydrocarbons, there’s little agreement about using fracking to extract it. Potentially bad news for Michigan is the massive amount of water polluted each time a well is fracked.

Over 90,000,000 gallons of water will be used this spring to frack the newest three Michigan wells, all on state land. A mix of water, sand, and chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, will be injected into the wells, fracturing the shale and releasing natural gas. This is referred to as “super” fracking.

Unfortunately for our lakes and streams, this water is not only polluted, but that which comes back up is subsequently trucked to injection wells where it’s forced into the earth, never to be recovered. Other issues with fracking include carcinogenic risks, releases of hydrogen sulfide, deforestation, and likelihood of additional ground water contamination.

Michigan’s rivers and lakes are the reason people live and vacation here, but our state politicians have given the green light to frack wells on leased state land near the headwaters of the AuSable, Muskegon, and Manistee rivers. When the gas boom ends, Michigan citizens will be left with only scarred earth and polluted water.

After researching fracking and it’s consequences, I’ve taken a stand in calling for a ban of horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Tell our politicians we demand an immediate moratorium on fracking in order to protect and conserve Pure Michigan water.

Glenn Bier • East Jordan


Last week's article on the new Uptown restaurant in TC included the wrong phone number. The correct number is 943-1344.

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