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Rochester Hills Puts Six Month Moratorium on Drilling

Rochester Hills Puts Six Month Moratorium on Drillingessential

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 27, 2014)

In a special meeting on Tuesday, the Rochester Hills City Commission enacted a six month moratorium on oil and gas drilling in their city. The move comes after years of lobbying by the group Don’t Drill the Hills.

The Detroit News reports that “Rochester Hills Council President Greg Hooper said he hopes a moratorium will buy enough time for state law to be changed, limiting where oil and gas wells can be located.”
According to Don’t Drill the Hills (DDHI), “Residents of Rochester Hills have been concerned about the seed05_jen_kat_latoschdrilling issue since discovering Rochester Hills City Council and Mayor Brian Barnett signed a lease with Jordan Development Company, LLC (Jordan) on January 15, 2013 allowing horizontal drilling under Tienken Park, Nowicki Park, and Stoney Creek Cemetery.”

A timeline on the DDHI website details the debate over drilling, dating back to 2011. Residents of Shelby Township have fought having an oil rig in their neighborhoods, and recently a moratorium has been voted in place there as well.

DDHI’s response to the Rochester Hills moratorium is mixed. “While DDHI welcomes the idea of a moratorium, a larger concern is the City’s willful subversiongallowaycollens1 of the law.  DDHI is currently in litigation against the City alleging violations of the City’s Charter and the Michigan Home Rule City Act because it signed a lease with Jordan allowing horizontal drilling under local parks and a city cemetery, and for granting Sunoco an easement for transporting oil through Bloomer Park.  Both the City’s Charter and Michigan statute require a public vote on such an issue.  By subverting the vote and unilaterally entering these agreements, the City has violated our public trust,” the group states on their website.   “Again, DDHI welcomes a moratorium on drilling, but encourages a more permanent solution from our elected officials.  No moratorium can replace enforceable state and local laws and tighter regulations that will protect resident’s home values, health, and welfare.”

Mike Webber, Republican candidate for State Representative issued a statement saying “This city moratorium and pending state legislation cannot take away people’s property rights to lease their minerals. As noted, there have been over 400 leases signed within the city of Rochester Hills. These leases do not 934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners4include placement of a drilling well on site. As the discussion continues, we need to be mindful of these property rights. As a supporter of domestic oil and gas exploration, I am proud of our Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Republican state legislators like Brandenburg and State Representatives Tom McMillin and Pete Lund for leading on this issue. I have always maintained that this is a state issue – it is regulated by state law – and I believe the discussion over the past two weeks has confirmed this….I remain concerned about soaring energy and gasoline prices that will place added burden on our families and job providers. As someone who has served our community and has experience in state and local government, I believe that we need to strike a balance in order to gain energy independence.”

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