FAQs

How does the ballot proposal process work in Michigan?

A:

There are four types in Michigan, (1) statutory initiative, (2) voter referendum, (3) legislative referendum, and (4) constitutional amendment initiative. Ours is the first type, a statutory initiative. For a more detailed explanation of the types of initiative and referendum, go here and scroll to the bottom: http://www.crcmich.org/election/index.html. For a history of initiative and referendum in Michigan, see question and answer below.

What exactly is a statutory or legislative initiative in Michigan?

A:

Statutory or legislative initiative is defined by Article 2 section 9 of our state constitution as the people's power "to propose laws and to enact and reject laws." It is invoked by filing petitions containing signatures of registered voters of at least 8% of the total votes cast in the last election for governor. If enough valid signatures are collected the legislature must enact it, without modification, or reject it within 40 session days. If the legislature rejects our ballot proposal, or fails to act, the proposed legislation goes to a statewide vote of the people on the next statewide ballot.

If the legislature rejects the proposal it can also place a competing measure on the same ballot on the same subject and the proposal which gets the most votes becomes law within 10 days. The governor cannot veto a law enacted this way. The legislature cannot amend or repeal it, except at a subsequent session, and then only by a supermajority vote in both the state senate and state house.

What does the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s legislative proposal propose to do?

A:

This legislation would amend and add to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. First, it would prohibit the use of the new kind of fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) and the production, storage, disposal, and processing of horizontal hydraulic fracturing wastes throughout Michigan. It would also delete the state's affirmative policy of aggravating global warming by "foster(ing) the development of the industry along the most favorable conditions and with a view to the ultimate recovery of the maximum production" of oil and gas. In its place is a requirement that the DEQ construe the statute always in favor of protecting water and human health.

Is this a valid petition and where is it in the approval process?

A:

Yes, it is a valid and approved petition. We received the standard approval "as to form" by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers on April 14, 2015. "Approval as to form" means the petition meets with all legal requirements. The Board of State Canvassers does not have jurisdiction over the language of the proposed legislation itself. You can view our petition on the Secretary of State Bureau of Elections' website.

We are going beyond the 180-day requirement in order to challenge the statue in the courts. The court has told us in order to challenge the law, we sued "too soon"--that first we need to collect all the signatures, file them, and then file a new lawsuit to challenge the law's constitutionality. We don't agree with the court on this point, but it is what we are forced to do. 

How many signatures are required?

A:

The requirement for legislative initiatives is 252,523 valid signatures from Michigan registered voters. We need to collect many more than that to ensure that we have enough valid signatures.

What is the deadline?

A:

The State of Michigan's deadline for all legislative (statutory) initiatives is 160 days prior to the statewide election in order to qualify for that election. We can submit signatures at any time. By the June 1, 2016 deadline, we did not have enough signatures to submit for the 2016 election. Therefore, we are continuing signature-gathering in order to qualify for the 2018 ballot. That deadline is May 30, 2018. We hope to collect enough signatures to submit well before that deadline.

We are challenging the laws that restrict the circulation period to 180 days in state court as unconstitutional. There are no time restrictions in the constitution on the people's right to statutory initiative. 

 

 

How can I sign a petition?

A:

You must sign the petition in person, witnessed by one of our circulators. 

You can only sign the petition ONCE. We started collecting on May 22, 2015. If you signed the petition already, thank you, do not sign it again. A duplicate signature, if we do not catch it and remove it, would cancel out your original signature and both will be considered invalid.

You must be a registered Michigan voter to sign the petition.

You can only sign one of the Committee's approved printed petitions.

There is no online version; do not try to download one from, or sign something on the Internet. You can only sign in person, witnessed by one of our circulators.

Find a location where Committee circulators will be gathering signatures. See our Events page for one near you. If none of these is convenient for you, you may contact us and we will mail you one to sign as both signer and circulator.

How can I circulate a petition and gather signatures?

A:

Register to gather signatures on the Volunteer page of our website www.letsbanfracking.org.

We request each volunteer to gather at least 200 signatures.

We prefer that you are a registered Michigan voter, but out-of-state individuals also can circulate. We require that out-of-state circulators provide a copy of their voter registration.

A coordinator with the campaign will provide training and instructions. Petitions will be distributed by coordinators and by mail.

I’d like to help raise funds for the campaign. How can I help?

A:

Direct donations are welcome. Please spread the word! However, do not collect checks or funds yourself, you are not authorized to do so. Direct everyone to our website so that all funds go directly to the campaign.

Every donor must be identified by name, address, date of contribution, occupation, employer name and business address. Please see our website for full guidelines. We can accept  donations of cash only if it's $20 or under. Over $20, you'll have to send a check.

Donations can be made securely online using Pay Pal, or checks may be sent to our address using U.S. mail.

Fundraiser events: All fundraiser events are being planned by the Committee to Ban Fracking and must have the approval and guidance of the campaign director. Strict legal guidelines apply. Please contact the campaign director at luanne at letsbanfracking dot org if you would like to help at one of our events or if you have a great idea for a fundraiser.

If I moved or am going to move, which address do I use when I sign the petition?

A:

Use the address where you are registered to vote on the day you sign the petition. Check the Secretary of State's website at www.michigan.gov/vote to confirm your voting location and current address on the day you sign if you are not sure.

How do I sign my name? I sign it different ways.

A:

Sign your name the way you normally sign your legal name, or on your driver's license or voter's registration. There is some latitude in how signatures can be signed. Make sure your printed name is legible and as complete as possible. The main thing to keep in mind is the Secretary of State Bureau of Elections needs to determine that the person signing is you, and that you are registered to vote at that address on the date that you sign the petition. If you sign or do not sign your middle name, that is okay. Variations in the way you spell your name (Don or Donald) are also acceptable.

What happens after enough signatures are gathered?

A:

When we gather enough signatures, we will file them with the Secretary of State's office.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections and Board of State Canvassers will review and validate them. Inevitably in a hand-to-hand operation like this, some will be found to be mistaken or incomplete, and ruled invalid. To be safe, we have to collect way more than the required 252,523. Once the required minimum is reached, the legislature will be given a chance to act, as described above.

Who is behind this ballot initiative?

A:

Ordinary citizens have organized to initiate this committee and ballot proposal. The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is a "Ballot Question Committee" registered with the Secretary of State Bureau of Elections. We file campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State, which are found on its website. We are not funded by big organizations, grants, or industry. We are a people's movement. We are Michigan voters who see the devastating harms that horizontal fracking will bring to Michigan, and want it banned permanently. We are a volunteer group. The Committee seeks donations and endorsements from individuals, businesses, and community-based groups that would like to publicly support and advocate for the proposal and a YES vote at the ballot box.

We have many supporters! Our list of endorsers may be found on the website under the Endorse menu.

In 2015 we commissioned a poll that showed that a strong majority of Michigan voters are with us on a ban on fracking.

The movement to ban fracking in Michigan is growing. 

Are ballot initiatives partisan?

A:

No. Ballot initiatives are non-partisan. Our ballot proposal appeals to people of all political parties. It is an issue campaign.

Where do I turn in my signed petitions?

A:

MAIL your signed petitions directly to:

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan

P.O. Box 490

Charlevoix, MI 49720

You may fold the petitions in half and send in a regular manila envelope.

Or, turn petitions in to county coordinator in person:

Turn in your petitions only to campaign coordinators, no one else. When in doubt, check with the Campaign Director at 231-944-8750 or mail in your petitions directly. Do not give your petitions to anyone who you are not sure is with the campaign.

 

Important: Send in the entire petition, complete with the Email list/instructions section intact. Do not tear off the Email list.

Can't the initiative process be manipulated by the wealthy and big corporations or even by the state legislators?

A:

Certainly it can, the gas and oil industry will put out a lot of propaganda and false arguments against our campaign. Ignore their lies.

The initiative process is proscribed in our state constitution and state statute.

Many people are confused about initiative and referendum. They are two separate processes. The referenda for the save the wolves campaign and the emergency manager law were referenda, that is, they did not create a new law, they simply allowed voters to veto the laws, erase them, rather than put in new laws.

An initiative like ours is different. Ours contains amended/new language to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) Public Act 451 of 1994. No matter what the legislators in Lansing do to write new laws, our proposal language once it gets approved by the voters, becomes the new law of the land, and extinguishes and replaces any language to the contrary. 

Our strength is we are a grassroots campaign. During the voting phase, highly-compensated advertising media take over. Once our ban campaign reaches the Legislature and then the ballot, circulators, signers and voters will be energized by the success. They are positioned to be an army of grassroots organizers to mobilize people to appear at the Capitol, at town meetings, public hearings, citizen and church groups and write letters to editors to argue the case. They will do this face-to-face and effectively, just as they did during the petitioning phase. A movement of such people cannot be co-opted.

What are ballot initiatives?

A:

Citizen-led ballot initiatives and referenda, often called "direct democracy" got its start in several states during the Progressive Era. This was a period of social activism and political reform in the U.S. that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. The era was marked by reforms aimed at breaking concentrated monopoly power of certain corporations and trusts. Many Progressives felt that state legislatures were part of this problem, and in the pocket of the wealthy. They sought a method to solve the problem in which average persons could become directly involved in the political process. One thing they came up with was the initiative (creating or amending laws) and referendum (repealing a law already enacted.) Between 1904 and 2007, some 2,231 statewide ballot proposals initiated by citizens were held in the US. Of these, 909 have been approved. (Source: Ballotpedia.org)

What is the history of ballot proposals in Michigan?

A:

Agitation for initiative and referendum in Michigan started in 1895 with support from Detroit mayor and later governor Hazen Pingree. Thirteen years later in 1908, I & R finally made it into the state constitution. It first proved unworkable and in 1913 a better one came in during the administration of Governor Woodbridge Ferris. The procedure provided that 39,000 signatures could get a constitutional amendment initiative on the 1914 ballot. But it was not till the 1930s that initiatives actually won voter approval. The first initiatives established a liquor control commission, limited property taxes, specified that gas and vehicle weight tax money must be used for roads, and established a system for nonpartisan election of judges. In the 1940s, voters enacted one to ensure that part of the state's sales tax revenues was returned to the municipalities, and another proposal that modified the property tax limitation. The initiative for which Michigan is most famous is the "Bottle Bill," approved by a 2-1 margin in 1976, which put a 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans. Initiatives and referenda through 2008, which made it to the Michigan ballot, are listed here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Const_Amend_189834_7.pdf 
See Ballotpedia.org for more information about Michigan's Initiative and Referendum history: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/History_of_I%26R_in_Michigan

What is horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”?

A:

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" for short, is a new kind of extraction process for methane (natural gas) that goes deeper than vertical drilling. It is only a decade old. It is a technique of "expanding or creating rock fractures leading from substantially horizontal wellbores, by injecting substances including but not limited to water, fluids, chemicals, and proppants, under pressure, into or under rock formations, for the purposes of exploration, drilling, completion, or production of oil and gas." Chemicals include toxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and many of the chemical components are secret and kept from the public. Fracking uses millions of gallons of water and produces many millions of gallons of frack wastes.

For more information about fracking in Michigan, see www.banmichiganfracking.org.

Isn’t fracking affecting only rural areas? Why should people living in cities be concerned?

A:

No place in Michigan is safe from fracking, the air emissions, frack waste disposal, water withdrawal, or frack industry infrastructure. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing wastes can be brought here and put into water treatment plants, landfills, and injection wells. Water used for fracking is taken from the hydrological cycle, affecting many communities' municipal water systems, groundwater, people who use well water for their drinking water, and surface water in lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams and tributaries. Aquifers, once contaminated, cannot be cleaned up. Radioactive wastes from frack operations are being brought into the city of Detroit for processing before being shipped to Idaho. Frack wastes affect everyone in Michigan.

Why is a statewide ban necessary?

A:

Regulations are state laws and rules that permit fracking, and spell out how it should be done. Regulations do not protect people from impacts of fracking and frack wastes. Only a ban protects us by preventing harm in the first place. To accept "regulated fracking," even if the regulation is strict and the regulators are conscientious, accepts the entire frack industry and all its components. Stopping a well here or there, in one community or two or in just the parks will help, but it does not prevent the overall, large-scale invasion of this toxic, polluting industry from destroying our state. People, animals and businesses in other states are suffering the health and economic consequences from contaminated air, water, and land from thousands of wells that have taken over the entire landscape, destroying water sources. Let's not let that happen here. Let's Ban Fracking.

Doesn’t fracking use a lot of fresh water?

A:

Yes. While industry and even the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had been claiming that each horizontal frack well uses about 5 million gallons of water, we now know from recent reports from the industry itself that Michigan's frack wells are using way more than that--as much as 16 to 21 million gallons per frack. One well pad used 42 million gallons. See: "Michigan's 21-Gallon Frack Job: A National Record?" at www.banmichiganfracking.org.

The DEQ has now posted a list of how much water has been used in "high volume" horizontal frack wells:

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/HVHF_and_water_480742_7.pdf

Have other states banned fracking?

A:

Yes!

Vermont became the first state to ban fracking when its legislature passed a law in 2012.

New York's governor banned fracking in 2014.

Maryland's legislature passed a ban in 2017.

North Carolina also has a moratorium in place. 

Hawaii's Big Island of Hawaii county has also banned fracking.

Florida, Nevada, and Washington state are all considering bans right now.

Other countries have also banned fracking, most recently Ireland.

Why does the Michigan DEQ say fracking’s been done for 60 years and there have been no incidents in Michigan? Shouldn’t we believe them?

A:

Unfortunately you can't believe the DEQ on this. Fracking in conventional wells has been done for decades, but not the new kind of deep, horizontal slickwater drilling and fracking the industry is doing now.
This technology of drilling vertical wells that then go horizontal deep underground to hard-to-reach shale and rock formations and fracturing them with high pressure, water, chemicals and sand or proppants that the public now calls horizontal fracking or just fracking for short, is less than a decade old and is responsible for numerous documented cases of water and air contaminations. DEQ would like you to believe that drilling the deeper formations of the Collingwood/Utica shale and the A-1 Carbonate layers with the new kind of horizontal fracking has been going on for decades but they are actually referring to conventional, mostly vertical fracking in the Antrim shale. (See the video "Unearthed: The Fracking Facade" on our home page).


The DEQ's website is filled with industry claims that we now know are not true: it says a typical frack well uses 5 million gallons, without mentioning the record-setting well which used 21 million gallons and another one recently permitted for 16 million gallons. The DEQ allowed 40,000 gallons of dangerous frack flowback, from a deep horizontal frack well, on roads last year. Finally, it refuses to enforce injection well rules on frack wells.

How bad are frack wastes?

A:

The horizontal fracking industry has been creating enormous quantities of waste in the form of flowback, brine and produced water. Drill cuttings and drilling muds are trucked to landfills and solidified on frack well sites in shallow pits. Toxic, airborne waste enters the atmosphere where it pollutes the air we breathe and methane leakage hastens global warming. Much of it is radioactive. In Michigan, lethal hydrogen sulfide may be present at frack wells and poses a serious life-and-death risk to anyone nearby. Where to put all this waste has become such a serious problem that the entire nation's water supplies are threatened. Each frack well is used as its own disposal site, since some of the frack-fluid and frack wastes remain in the well. There are already over 1,000 injection wells in Michigan. Many more would be needed to accommodate the horizontal frack industry here and from other states, if we allow Michigan to become a recipient of such wastes. This threatens us and all future generations. The frack waste injection well casings have to last forever, and it's been proven that they do not hold up over time.


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