Why big oil could be coming to your backyard


DETROIT – According to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Geologist Jack Lanigan, there are more than 700 mineral resource wells in the southeastern area of the state, but that number is increasing -- and will continue to do so as our country moves towards energy independence.

Many communities in the metro Detroit are fighting oil/gas companies, with hopes of preventing drilling in their areas. One group known as, Don't Drill The Hills, Inc. is made up of residents from Rochester Hills. They are suing the city and Jordan, L.L.C.


In 2012, the city of Rochester Hills joined in a lease agreement with Jordan to allow the exploration company to explore, extract and sell any oil and gas found beneath Nowicki Park, Tienken Park and the VanHoosen Jones Stony Creek Cemetery. These areas are supposed to be used for park and open space purposes only. 

Don't Drill the Hills and residents of Rochester Hills have spoken up at council meetings, saying that this issue should be brought to a vote. According to Charter Section 11.8 city-owned parkland "shall not be sold" without voter approval, but when Mayor Bryan Barnett signed off on the lease, the voters had no say in the matter. Litigation is ongoing.

Local 4 attended several meeting in the area, from Scio Township to Novi and more. The voices in those meetings echoed one another, each one firm and each one anti drilling.

Dr. Chris Grobbel, who is a former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality geologist, informed the people of Scio Township. of the risks involved with drilling.  He also punched some holes in stories that the DEQ has delivered to different media outlets.

"I'm doing presentations with DEQ on a monthly basis. DEQ has never had a spill at a fracked well? Well, they did," Grobbel said.

A fracked well is hydraulically fractured well, or fracking as it is commonly known. 

In this process hundreds of chemicals and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are pushed into the ground at high pressure to force open existing fissures in order to extract gas or oil. Many link water and soil contamination, as well as dangerous chemical spills and even earthquakes to this type of operation.  At this point in time, there are no fracking wells in the area and none proposed.

West Bay Exploration is the largest oil/gas producer in the state of Michigan. 


They are based in Traverse City and have been exploring since 1981. 

Patrick Gibson is the vice president of the company. We caught up with him and asked him if there were any areas in which West Bay had not been allowed to drill.

"No there are not," he said.

Can the oil and gas companies do as they please?  Can you do anything to stop them?  Many wonder what the future holds for their neighborhoods, communities and environment -- only time will tell.