Oil drilling to stop in Shelby Township

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Oil and gas drilling operations in Shelby Township will be shut down by the end of the week, according to the West Bay Exploration Company.

Residents and township leaders expressed their concerns about the drilling -- which has been conducted near residential neighborhoods -- and asked Lansing legislatures to intervene.

West Bloomfield Township was first to pass a moratorium on drilling and fracking. Last week, Shelby Township and Scio Township passed similar ordinances.

West Bay says Gov. Rick Snyder, Senator Jack Brandenburg and Rep. Pete Lund urged the measure to shut down operations.

"West Bay will shut down drilling operations in Shelby Township indefinitely by the end of this week," said West Bay vice president Patrick Gibson in a news release. "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."

Gibson said West Bay will cooperate with state officials as they develop a plan for easing resident concerns and maintaining neighborhood quality, while also preserving the state's ability to meet its energy needs and protecting personal property rights.

The state of Michigan took away all regulatory power from townships when it comes to this type of drilling.

However, the Department of Environmental Quality approves the permits for gas and oil drilling. On Thursday, the DEQ said the concerns had them meeting about potential changes in the rules -- primarily the law that the sites have to be 450 feet from homes.

"If you set up the rules to address the situation, they've got to work anywhere," said Brad Wurfel, Michigan DEQ communications director. "And so the question before the DEQ right now is do the rules we've got work, and we're taking a look."