FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2013
Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan
(231) 944-8750 email@example.com
Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan ballot initiative rallies 70,000 signatures, organizers to continue campaign and fundraising
Charlevoix, Michigan – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, the ballot question committee collecting signatures for a legislative initiative to put a ban on horizontal fracking and frack wastes to a statewide vote in 2014, reports that it has not yet gathered the required 258,088 signatures in a six-month period that started in April. Committee organizers will pursue fundraising activities to continue gathering signatures until the required number is met, and will use both paid and volunteer petitioners. The official deadline for turning in signatures is in May 2014.
The Committee tallies 69,890 signatures at press time and is still counting. Last year, the Committee gathered over 30,000 signatures on a similar initiative that would have amended the state constitution to ban fracking. In all, the Committee manages over 500 volunteers who collected over 92% of the signatures, and ten paid petitioners, with a dedicated group of all-volunteer organizers. The Committee aims to change that equation in the coming months.
“We've built the movement to ban fracking and spread the word statewide reaching tens of thousands of Michigan voters. We now know that people want direct democracy to work, but it's only a matter of time and money to get more feet on the ground doing the talking and collecting. We have come to the conclusion that we need to pay experienced circulators as many other ballot initiatives have successfully done,” said campaign director LuAnne Kozma. She noted that while dedicated campaign volunteers have given generous amounts of their time and many have learned and mastered the art of ballot initiative petitioning, most volunteers have limited experience with the rigors and timeliness requirements of ballot initiatives. “Of course we are disappointed with not meeting the goal in these past six months, we have a ways to go, but no one said it would be easy to train hundreds of people about the mechanics of direct democracy and reach 320,000 voters in person. Ballot initiatives require determination and several tries. We are fired up by how many people we have now met who also want to ban fracking. We are determined to continue and we are destined to win.”
The tide is turning in the Committee's favor. Circulators reported seeing a dramatic difference in public attitudes this year compared to last, which is backed up by Pew Research Center survey results that more Americans now oppose fracking than favor it (49% to 44%), and a sixteen-point increase in opposition occurred in the Midwest, with a 48% majority of Midwesterners now opposing fracking, compared to only 32% opposed six months ago, the same time period as the Committee's campaign.(1)
“We definitely noticed the difference. The gathering is easy and getting easier,” said Peggy Case, Committee to Ban Fracking organizer for northwest Michigan. “As a grassroots movement, we started with a committee of nine people and zero dollars at the start of the year, and began building a network of people who reached 70,000 people face-to-face. We encounter people who thank us for doing this and are rooting for us to win. They get it that only a ban can protect us and that to get fracked with 'regulated fracking' is not the answer. Our only obstacle is getting enough people out there for longer periods of time and to do that, we need the financial resources to pay knowledgeable, dedicated workers to gather signatures in the volumes necessary to get on the ballot. We've now trained paid petitioners in our issue and have seen how effective they are in reaching out to people about fracking, getting significant numbers of signatures, and being committed to making it to the ballot. An effective paid petitioner can gather 500 to 1,000 signatures in one week. This is a 'call to arms' and action. Supporters who want to make a difference and make this happen, all they have to do is write a check. We need a core of significant donors who are willing to make larger contributions. Without a core organization, union or religious group sponsoring this drive, our effort is dependent upon our fellow humans who want to protect each other from fracking. Who will step up and give those amounts? The sooner we have those contributions, large and small, the sooner we can continue.”
The Committee plans a series of fundraiser events throughout the fall and will host a free screening of the documentary Gasland Part II, with filmmaker Josh Fox in his only live appearance in Michigan on Wednesday, October 16 at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak at 6:30 p.m. Details are at the Committee's website: www.letsbanfracking.org. Campaign details will be announced at the screening after the Committee meets to plan strategy.
The list of places in Michigan getting fracked by horizontal fracking continues to grow. Last month permits were issued for a frack well in Livingston County just 30 miles from Lansing, as well as in Oceana and Sanilac counties. Hillsdale, Ionia, Muskegon, Kalkaska, Crawford, Ogemaw and Roscommon, all are facing deep frack wells, along with wells in Cheboygan, Missaukee and Antrim counties. Mineral rights for fracking have been leased out in nearly every county in the Lower Peninsula. Michigan has over 1,000 toxic injection wells for frack wastes and is building more, and is expected to take in wastes from other states' fracking operations such as Ohio which has less than 200 injection wells projected to be filled to capacity within two years. The frack industry is using more water per frack in Michigan, with the Canadian company Encana proposing to use over 1 billion gallons of fresh groundwater in a series of wells, topping national records.
Donors are urged to contact the Committee by phone at: 231-944-8750. Contributions can also be made online at www.letsbanfracking.org or by check to: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, PO Box 490, Charlevoix, MI, 49720. Contributions must include: contributor's name, address, occupation, employer name, and employer address.
(1) Pew Research Center, September 2013, http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/9-26-13%20Energy%20Release.pdf