FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2013

Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan

(231) 944-8750 luanne@letsbanfracking.org

 

University of Michigan hydraulic fracturing reports compromised by steering committee contributions to Michigan Chamber's political campaign aimed at defeating ballot initiative

 

Committee to Ban Fracking's 2013 ballot initiative not mentioned in University of Michigan frack study

 

Charlevoix, Michigan – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a statewide ballot initiative campaign (www.letsbanfracking.org), exposes the undisclosed financial conflict of interest in the University of Michigan's Graham Institute's hydraulic fracturing study, issued last week.

 

University of Michigan fracking study steering committee members contributed to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s political campaign against the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan‘s veto-proof ballot initiative. An analysis of the Committee’s campaign–or anything about Michigan’s ballot initiative process–is nowhere to be found in the U of M's reports. One brief mention of the Committee to Ban Fracking misleadingly references the 2012 campaign to amend the state constitution.

 

Two steering committee members, John DeVries of the law firm Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones, which represents Encana in fracking cases in Michigan, and Gregory Fogle who owns Old Mission Energy, each contributed $500 to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s “PAC-II” ballot question committee (Secretary of State ID # 513425) which vociferously opposes the ban fracking ballot initiative with a campaign of their own called “Protect Michigan’s Energy Future.” Together DeVries and Fogle speak for the Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA), helping to steer the U of M's integrated assessment report. They were quoted in a UM press release last fall announcing the Graham study. DeVries in particular claimed the study would be “unbiased.” On May 20 MOGA itself gave $10,000 to PAC-II. Total of the three contributions: $11,000, out of $324,525 collected in the second quarter of 2013. PAC-II has put up billboards around the state to defeat the ban fracking ballot initiative. On May 8 the Chamber put out a press release denouncing the initiative as dangerous, emotional, and extremist. A few weeks before, Deb Muchmore, speaking for MOGA, said: “We are taking the initiative seriously….”. Blasted across the Michigan news media, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s emerging campaign was highly visible.

We knew before the study was even conducted that with industry steering the U of M researchers' work, that it is an inherently 'frackademia' study,” said LuAnne Kozma. “The reason for the omission of our campaign's 2013 ballot initiative from the Public Perception report, and the total lack of any mention of the constitutional power of the people of Michigan's right to referendum and initiative in the Law & Policy report, and the fact that we the People are actually using it to ban fracking statewide, is made crystal clear in light of the U of M study's steering committee and their financial contributions—undisclosed in the U of M reports-- to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce's political campaign fund aimed to defeat our initiative.”

The Law and Policy Technical Report, by lead author Sara Gosman of the UM law school, makes no mention of the Committee to Ban Fracking's ballot initiative, nor of Michigan's voters' power under the state constitution to initiative and referendum. Under state and regional trends, other states’ ban and moratoria are identified, as are Michigan regulatory (not ban) bills introduced this summer. “The Law and Policy report details 'prioritized pathways' to guide future policy options, including options for 'public participation in governmental decisions on hydraulic fracturing,' but not the most obvious one of all spelled out in the state constitution that Michigan voters readily make use of–direct democracy by initiative and referendum,” said Kozma.

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s campaign collects signatures through October 1, 2013. Volunteer or donate at www.letsbanfracking.org.

To make a comment on the U of M’s Graham Institute’s website about the hydraulic fracturing reports go here. The comment deadline is October 7, 2013.

More information about this story can be found at: www.banmichiganfracking.org.

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Contact us at info@letsbanfracking.org