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; the one we ran last year was the last type. 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.
Statutory or legislative initiative is defined by section 9 of article 2 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 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 vote of the people on the November 2014 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 ¾ vote of each house.
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.
Yes, it is a valid and approved petition. We received the standard approval â��as to formâ�� by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers on February 15, 2013 and then again for a final version of the petition, submitted on March 5, on April 17, 2013. Signatures gathered between April 12 and April 17 are valid (if all other criteria are met). "Approval as to form" means the petition meets with all legal requirements in the wording of the boilerplate sections, font sizes, presentation and format of the petition. The Board of State Canvassers does not have jurisdiction over the actual wording of the proposed legislation. The only change in the final version of the petition was to clarify the wording that frack wastes from any horizontal hydraulic fracturing, even from other states, can not be stored, disposed, or processed in Michigan.
In 2014 the requirement is 258,088 valid signatures from Michigan registered voters. We will collect at least 320,000.
Our campaign begins April 12, 2013. We will end collecting on October 1, 2013. Signatures older than 180 days at the time we file the petitions are "stale." The Committee is allowed to choose the start date of the 180-day period.
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 the Internet. You can only sign in person, witnessed by one of our circulators. To sign, find a location where Committee circulators will be gathering signatures. See our Events page for one near you.
You must be a registered Michigan voter to circulate the petition. Register to volunteer on the Volunteer page of our website. Instructions, a sample petition and other training materials are on the Tools for Circulators page. A coordinator will also provide training. Petitions will be distributed by coordinators and by mail. You can sign the petition you circulate.
Yes. The petitions from last year are now stale. Plus, we made changes from last year's.
If you are a Michigan registered voter, you can gather signatures for 180 days starting April 12. Writing letters to the editor in favor of the campaign is also important. Spread the word about the campaign by talking about it to everyone you meet, sharing our website on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and sending emails to your friends. You can also donate to the campaign and encourage others to donate. See the Donate page for instructions and guidelines.
Young people who cannot vote (yet!) can do a lot to advocate to Michigan voters to encourage them to sign the petition and vote YES to ban fracking. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about the campaign. Creating homemade signs with our website address, www.letsbanfracking.org for use at concerts, festivals and sporting events, and at our campaign signing events, helping petition circulators by talking to voters at signing events, showing the movie Gasland in school clubs, asking friends and family to donate to the campaign, and telling the world about our ballot proposal and website (www.LetsBanFracking.org) using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and email—will help others in Michigan learn about our ballot proposal.
Direct donations are welcome from individuals. Please spread the word! However, do not collect checks yourself. Direct everyone to our website. We can’t accept anonymous donations or cash over $20. Every donor must be identified by name, address, date of contribution, occupation, and business address. Please see our website for full guidelines. Donations can be made securely online using Pay Pal, or checks may be sent to our address using U.S. mail. Fundraiser events: If you would like to help raise funds for us by hosting a fundraiser, you must have the approval and guidance of the campaign director. Strict legal guidelines apply. Please contact the campaign director.
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.
Sign your name the way you normally sign your legal name, 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.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections and Board of State Canvassers will review 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 258,088. Once the required minimum is reached, the legislature will be given a chance to act, as described. Eventually it will go the to voters, at which point the industry will begin a furious campaign. Get ready!
At the next statewide election which will be November 4, 2014. If the Legislature acts to vote yes on the initiative before then, it would become law right away.
At your regular polling place in the city or township where you vote, on November 4, 2014.
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 an all-volunteer group. The Committee seeks donations and endorsements from individuals and community-based groups that would like to publicly support and advocate for the proposal and a “Yes” vote in November 2014. We accept endorsements but not donations from for-profit corporations.
No. Ballot initiatives are non-partisan. Our ballot proposal appeals to people of all political parties. It is an issue campaign.
Committee circulators should send in their signed petitions on a regular bi-weekly basis to the campaign mailing address at P.O. Box 490, Charlevoix, Michigan, 49720, unless the coordinator from whom you received the petitions is collecting them and sending them in for you. When in doubt, check with the Campaign Director or mail in your petitions directly. Coordinators will be known to you as a circulator when you sign up to volunteer on our website. Don’t give your petitions to anyone who you are not sure is with the campaign. Send in the entire petition, complete with the Email list/instructions section intact. Do not tear off the Email list.
Certainly it can, as we saw in the 2012 initiative for a vote on funding for a new bridge to Canada. It was financed mostly by the owner of the competing bridge. He paid the petition circulators who worked whether they actually believed in the initiative or not. Our petition does not work that way. No one is paid, not even our Director. The people who stand out in the weather to collect signatures are grassroots people doing it on their own time. By contrast, paid circulators desert their campaigns once the signature gathering is done. During the voting phase, highly-compensated advertising media take over. Once our ban campaign reaches the Legislature and then the ballot, circulators 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.
Citizen-led ballot initiatives and referenda, often called “direct democracy” and “I & R,” 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)
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
Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, is a new kind of “unconventional” extraction for methane (natural gas) that goes deeper than vertical “conventional” drilling. It is only a decade old. As our proposed legislation states, 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 known 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.
No place in Michigan is safe from fracking, frack wastes and water withdrawal. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing wastes—both liquid and solids—can be brought here and put into city water treatment plants, landfills, and injection wells. Water used for fracking will be 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.
Regulations are state laws and rules that permit fracking, and spell out how it should be done. Regulations do not “protect” people from fracking. 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 fracking 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.
Just one company, EnCana, a Canadian company currently fracking in Michigan, expects to put a massive system of 1,700 horizontal frack wells in Michigan, connecting them all with pipelines, gas compressor stations and treatment facilities. (EnCana now says 500 wells; who knows what it will say tomorrow?) Along with this industrialization come hundreds or thousands of toxic injection wells, in addition to the toxic frack well sites, which also serve as their own waste facilities. Landfills are used for the dumping of hazardous drilling muds and cuttings. Some of the waste is buried in drilling mud pits on site.
Yes. While industry and even the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has 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.
Yes. New Jersey’s legislature banned fracking but then the governor changed it to a temporary measure. Vermont became the first state to ban fracking when its legislature passed a law last spring.
Why does the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality keep saying fracking’s been done for 60 years and there have been no incidents in Michigan? Shouldn’t we believe them?
Unfortunately you can’t believe the DEQ on this. Fracking vertically 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 Façade” 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.
Yes. 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. 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 “containers” have to last forever. And they can’t. (See the video “The Sky is Pink” by Josh Fox on our Links page).