Monday, August 25, 2014

In light of public outcry, Traverse City oil company plans to shut down drilling operation in Shelby Twp.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 1:56 PM

click to enlarge One of the three city-owned properties whose mineral rights were leased by Rochester Hills to a Traverse City-based oil and gas exploration company seeking to drill in the community. - COURTESY OF DON'T DRILL THE HILLS, INC.
  • Courtesy of Don't Drill the Hills, Inc.
  • One of the three city-owned properties whose mineral rights were leased by Rochester Hills to a Traverse City-based oil and gas exploration company seeking to drill in the community.

A Traverse City-based oil exploration company drilling for oil in Shelby Township announced it would cease operations by Friday, after an emergency town hall meeting last week drew nearly 700 residents.  

West Bay Exploration says in a release today it would cease drilling operations indefinitely at is Shelby Township exploration well. In light of the public outcry over the drilling location, as close as 500 feet to some residential homes, and environmental concerns, the company says it was urged by elected officials to halt its operation — including Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, state Sen. Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.) and state Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Twp.)

"Our goal is to be a good partner in the community, and it is clear that we need to work with neighbors and state officials to address concerns that are being raised before moving forward," says West Bay vice president Patrick Gibson, in a statement. 

Last week, Shelby Township's board of trustees approved a resolution that would place a moratorium on drilling in the community for six months, but Gibson told the Detroit News that likely held no teeth

Gibson says in the release that West Bay will develop a plan to quell concerns in cooperation with state officials. "We appreciate the patience of neighbors while we have been under construction and apologize for the disruption in their lives," Gibson says in the statement. 

The resistance to oil and gas drilling in suburban communities has continued to rise in recent years, as companies like West Bay have pursued mineral rights leases across Wayne and Oakland Counties. Vocal opponents have raised concerns about losing property value on their homes, as well as potential impacts to the environment. Earlier this year, Metro Times reported on a Rochester Hills-based group who sued the city and an oil company with mineral rights leases on city-owned property. 

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